College Board Has Big Changes for the SAT

No more pencils, no more paper, and way less stress – College Board has changed the SAT yet again to become more streamlined for the class of 2024 and onward.

On January 25th, College Board announced big changes to the SAT for future test-takers: the test will be shortened by an hour with more time for each question; in terms of content, the no-calculator math section will be removed, and the reading section will have shorter passages with only one question each. Tests will still be scored out of 1600 points, but results will be available in days instead of weeks.

One of the biggest changes is the format: the new proposed SAT will be fully digital. To respond to digital inequalities, including unequal access to technology, College Board will allow students to take the test on personal or school laptops or tablets; if neither option is possible, College Board will provide computers for test-takers. The SAT will also save automatically in case of lost power or connection too.

By moving the test online, the SAT is set to become more secure. Currently, if a single paper test is compromised, an entire group of students may have to retake the exam. According to the College Board’s announcement, the new format will make it “practically impossible to share answers.”

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, Vice President of College Readiness Assessments at College Board. All these changes are designed to make the testing experience easier for students and educators and have received positive feedback from both. In November 2021, the new proposed test was piloted in the U.S. and internationally. 83% of takers responded that they found the test to be less stressful, and an astonishing 100% of educators reported having a positive experience.

Christal Wang, a 16-year-old pilot test-taker from Northern Virginia, said she “definitely preferred the format with the shorter passages [because] it was easier to read and easier to stay focused.” She also said she “felt less drained at the end,” highlighting the new streamlined test is successful in terms of improving the student experiment.

However, it is important to recognize the possible business motivations as well: as the SAT’s relevance decreases with many U.S. schools going test-optional, shifting to digital tests is a way to increase profit margins. Eliminating test booklets, scantrons, and shipping fees will significantly lower test administration costs. So far, there has been no suggestion from College Board that these lowered costs will result in lower fees for students, though.

The shift to a less stressful, digital test seems to be linked to practicality, user experience, and cost, and College Board has so far been successful in their improvements. This new test will be offered to international students starting in 2023 and in the U.S. in 2024; time will tell if it brings significant positive change, but the pilot testing indicates it’s for the best.

Through Teen Lenses: How do you feel about these new changes to the SAT?

“I think it’s a good change, and it might help mitigate the issue of socio-economic status correlation with scores. I am a bit disappointed I’ll still have to take the old, more stressful SAT, though.”
Anneli Sample, Junior at Thomas Edison High School, Virginia

“I’m super happy there won’t be a non-calculator section and that the too-long reading passages will be gone. The SAT being changed for me makes me incredibly thankful for whoever convinced College Board!”
Agata Colon, Sophomore at Thomas Edison High School, Virginia

“I believe that these new changes to the SAT will be beneficial to future classes in improving their mental health, as well as their attitude towards academic exams. Also, often times the SAT is seen as a stressor for high school students, which may taint their overall performance.”
Emily Martinez, Junior at Thomas Edison High School, Virginia