Say Goodbye to Pencils—The SAT is Becoming Digitalized


What does digital testing change?

K. Peechu, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, January 25th, College Board announced that the Scholastic Aptitude Test, more commonly known as the SAT, would be making a permanent shift to a shorter digital examination.

The changes will be implemented in 2023 in areas outside the U.S. and in 2024 within American testing centers. Students will complete the test on either computers or laptops in a testing period of two hours, shortened from the original three-hour duration. In addition to this, College Board has stated it will allow calculator-use on the entire math section of the SAT, and will address a larger range of topics but shorten the passages on the reading section.

Vice president of the College Board college readiness assessments Priscilla Rodriguez said in a statement, “Submitting a score is optional for every type of college, and we want the SAT to be the best possible option for students.”

Many students have expressed their support for these changes, such as Green Level junior Pranathi Sayini, who has stated, “I think standardized testing is a good way to test a student’s knowledge from school…but I feel like it shouldn’t be so harsh on them to the point where it affects their mental health.” She went on to emphasize, “Changes such as the full calculator-use in the math section and the shorter reading passages can definitely relieve a lot of stress off of a bunch of students.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing complaints from schools, teachers, students, and parents alike concerning the importance and validity of standardized testing for college admissions, College Board’s recent steps seem to coincide with other changes in the academic landscape. 

Colleges and universities from all over have been eliminating standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT as requirements for the admissions process even before the pandemic, and when factoring in recent global events, numbers have shot up. According to Inside Higher Ed, around 75% of U.S. four-year institutions have made standardized tests optional in the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, and more than half intend to keep their policies for the next year as well. 

The University of California system announced last year, after a lawsuit that argued that standardized tests were not a fair way of assessing chances of college success, that standardized test scores would cease to be a factor in admissions decisions. Harvard, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, announced in December 2021 that SAT and ACT scores would not be required for the next four years of admissions cycles.

These decisions and announcements made by powerful and renowned institutions have been cited by many as catalysts and contributors to a larger transformation of both standardized testing and the educational system as a whole, and College Board’s recent modifications are a testament to that.