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The College Board announces the SAT to go digital in 2023

Updated: Mar 17

Late last month the College Board announced the SAT will move from a scantron paper-based test to a digital test. ‘The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give and more relevant,’ said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of college readiness and assessments at College Board. Although changes will not take place until next year for international test sites and 2024 for US testing sites, some of the changes will include:

o The digital test will last two hours rather than three with more time per question.

o There will be shorter reading passages with only one question per passage.

o Students will have the opportunity to use a calculator on the entire math section, and to use their own laptop or tablet on the testing day. Laptops will also be provided.

o Results will be released in days rather than weeks.

Students must still register for the test through the College Board which will continue to be held at designated testing centres on specific testing dates. The test will also continue to be proctored and will remain out of 1600 points. The move to a digital format will provide an added layer of security with each student receiving a unique test form.

For context and background:

Prior to COVID-19 pandemics, the SAT or the ACT were required for admission purposes to most US universities as part of the holistic admission review process. The ACT, a competing test to the SAT transitioned to computer-based testing in 2020. Both the SAT and the ACT tests are offered globally and on designated testing dates throughout the year. Due to the pandemic, these testing dates were cancelled leaving students unable to sit the test. As a response, most US universities announced applicants may apply ‘test-optional’ which means the SAT or ACT test score is optional and not required as part of the application material required to be considered for admission. US universities are able to make admission decisions due to the holistic admission process and the multiple other application components in which they require for admission. Critics of the SAT test believe moving to a digital format is the College Board's final effort to revive a test which is losing its relevancy.

Our take:

SAT and ACT testing requirements for US university admissions is complicated. Some public university systems, such as in California will not acknowledge a test score if submitted (test-blind) while other public state systems, such as Florida and Georgia, still require an SAT or ACT test result for admission purposes.

While prospective students have historically used their SAT or the ACT results as a guide to assess where they may gain admission, neither of the tests have been found to accurately indicate a student’s academic preparedness nor academic success at university.

The current test-optional landscape has confirmed a comprehensive review of a student’s marks from year nine onward are a better indicator of academic success than either the SAT or ACT but some students continue to pursue their testing opportunities and in certain situations a strong score can demonstrate academic fluency and support an application.

As with much of the US university admission process, there is not one answer to suit everyone but rather each students’ circumstances are different. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in achieving your US university admission goals.

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