SAT College Admissions Exam, No Longer Required By Many Schools, To Go Digital

U.S. high school students will use laptops rather than pencils and paper to take the SAT college admissions exam beginning in 2024, in a move to digitize the standardized test whose use has declined during the pandemic and as many universities no longer require it for admission.

Students who take the new digitized SAT – once a stress-inducing rite of passage for nearly all college-bound Americans – will have two instead of three hours to answer questions and will face shorter reading passages, College Board said in a statement on Tuesday. Test-takers may also use a calculator for the math portion to the exam.

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, a vice president at the nonprofit organization that develops the test. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform — we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible.”

For decades, high school students applying to college would sit in rooms with other test takers and a monitor, and use a pencil to fill in bubbles on a piece of paper corresponding to their answers on the multiple-choice test. The exam is made up of a math and a reading and writing sections and is scored on a 1,600 score scale.

In November 2021, College Board conducted a pilot program for a digital SAT in the United States and other countries. Four out of every five test takers said they found the digital version less stressful.

Starting in 2024, U.S. students will take the test using their own laptop or tablet, a school-issued device or a device provided by the College Board. As in the past, students must take to the exam at local testing sites.

The digital SAT test will be available to international students starting in 2023.

Questions about the effectiveness of standardized testing – along with the COVID-19 pandemic – have reduced the number of students taking the SAT in recent years. Many colleges and universities have dropped it as an admission requirement.

Some 1.5 million students in the high school class of 2021 took the SAT at least once, down from 2.2 million in the class of 2020 due to the pandemic, the College Board said. (Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by David Gregorio)