Going Virtual: A New Era of SAT?

Michelle Wang, Staff Writer

The SAT, formly one of the cornerstones of college admissions, has become less important as colleges take on a holistic review of applications instead of mere test scores. As a result, a new era of standardized test taking begins as The College Board recently announced a new digital SAT. Starting in Spring 2024 for US students, the test will be transitioning to a fully digital format thus eliminating the paper version.  

These changes will affect the class of 2025, which comes as a surprise to many students who have been accustomed to the paper SAT for decades. The College Board implemented these changes in order to make the SAT more inclusive, compounded by the fact that colleges and universities across the U.S. are increasingly becoming test-optional. Students from the November 2021 global pilot of the digital SAT have reported that the test is easier to take and administer. This change gives students more accessibility in submitting their scores in order to enhance their college applications. 

Here are some major changes of the digital SAT:

  • Taken on a laptop or tablet (The College Board will provide students with devices to those who don’t have access to one)
  • Takes two hours, instead of three
  • Calculators are allowed on both math sections
  • Scores are available within days

The new format will be personalized for each student: the paper version of the SAT assigns multiple students to test on the same form while the digital SAT will provide a unique test form for each student while still being scored on a 1600-point scale. The College Board maintains that the digital SAT will cover the same topics and skills. 

However, students are split over the new format: the majority of Dulaney students say that they would prefer to take the SAT on paper. In a survey with 171 Dulaney students, 66.7% said that they prefer taking the SAT on paper while an overwhelming 80.1% indicated that they prefer reading passages on paper. In the same survey, Dulaney students have expressed concerns over the digital format such as technical issues such as wifi connectivity, concerns about cheating, challenges with focusing and accommodating for students with support needs. 

As The College Board makes this transition, it is necessary to address these questions. This change comes amid criticism of the SAT benefiting wealthy students who can afford SAT tutoring. As the SAT transitions to fully virtual, it is the hope that test-taking will be more accessible and inclusive.