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The New Digital SAT

Through the years since the SAT was created, it has faced a multitude of changes. Measuring the knowledge or “test-taking ability” of students, the SAT has been used every year by colleges and universities to help determine which students deserve their academic aspects. The basis of the test consisted of 65 minutes for the reading section, 35 minutes for the writing section, 25 minutes for the no calculator math section, and 55 minutes for the math section.

Due to Covid-19, SAT centers were not permitted to have such a large number of students in such close proximity, so the SAT was deemed optional for most of 2021. As time went on, colleges began to assess how much the SAT truly measured students’ academic ability. Those who had the capability of spending money -- no matter the amount -- on an SAT tutor were more likely to perform well on the test, being taught the tricks to score well. Whereas students who did not have the ability to use their money towards an SAT tutor were unaware of such tricks and things that would help their performance on the test. Due to such reasons, currently in 2023, most schools remain test optional and, as of now, will stay that way until 2026 or 2027.

But, if the SAT is staying optional, why make such drastic changes? College board felt that with such technological advances in society and academic life, they wanted to stay alert with what would work the best for their students. Creating the digital SAT allows for more flexibility in dealing with how often each test is and where it can be administered.

So what’s new about this SAT? First of all, it’s no longer on paper. Students will need to download an application built for the specific use of SAT testing. Second, the reading passages are shorter, and they eliminated the no calculator math section. With shortening these sections, the test becomes about 2 hours, instead of 3. Although, the biggest change is the new multistage adaptive design. This means that the questions a student receives are based on how they performed on the previous question. One will receive more difficult questions if performed well on earlier questions -- therefore being able to receive a higher score. If you didn’t do well on previous questions, the later questions will become easier.

However, such advances also come with more errors. Although the college board is prepared for possible technological mistakes, there are still underlying issues that can present themselves. For example, since many are using the application at once, there could be a random shutdown, resulting in students having to retake the test. Another issue could be that the application lags due to widespread use of it. Whatever it might be, as time goes on, and technological advancements increase, the College Board is determined to stay on top of things as needed.

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