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The SAT Turns Digital

CollegeBoard introduces the Digital SAT
CollegeBoard introduces the Digital SAT

The SAT has changed its format, with the first online version of the test being taken on March 9. The overall test is shorter, with less questions in each section (Math and English), and a longer time to answer each totaling to a shorter overall testing time. It is around two hours long, while the paper version was three hours (CollegeBoard). 

What is staying the same as the test switches from paper to digital? Continuities include the skills being assessed for college decisions, a 1600-point scale, the test being administered in test centers with a proctor present, a wide variety of practice resources, and providing accommodations to students who need them. However, there are many aspects of this well-known test that have greatly changed. The most obvious change is that passages and problems, as well as answer choices, will be presented on a screen instead of on paper. Other changes are the overall length of the test, shorter reading passages in the English section, and calculators being permitted throughout the entire Math section (CollegeBoard). The English section is also a mixture of reading and grammar for both of the two sections students are tested on. 

Digitally, the way in which the test is divided in terms of questions is very different from what students have seen before. There are still two sections for both Math and English. However, these sections are now referred to as “modules.” Every student for Module 1 in English and Math are given more simple questions. CollegeBoard, through the Bluebook application, is immediately able to receive and evaluate the scores from that first module and determine the difficulty level of the second, which is now “adaptive” – if they get about two-thirds of the questions correct, they will get the difficult version; if they do not, then they will be given the easier version of the second module (CollegeBoard). 

There have been mixed reviews of the Digital SAT; some students believe that it was easier to access, more reasonable in terms of how much time it took to complete, and more adaptive. However, there has been some concern over the “adaptive” second module, especially in the Math section taken for the first time in March – many students walked out of the test center feeling unconfident and worried about their scores with being given such difficult questions. Savannah DeFino, a junior at Ramapo High School who took this digital test, believed that “the digital SAT was very user friendly. However, I do think the math section, particularly the second math module, was very challenging.” 

Whether it is digital or on paper, the SAT continues to be a large factor considered by colleges and universities when considering the application of a student. Mrs. Perry, head of the Guidance Department says “As standardized testing and its significance in the college admissions process continues to evolve, the flexibility of digital based testing creates opportunity for students and information for formatting a testing plan.” This shift will continue to bring controversy and criticism, however, this does not mean that it will return to its written ways. Mrs. Perry hints that “The RIH Guidance departments have partnered with the Princeton Review to offer a virtual, digital SAT test at no cost. This date will be on Saturday, April 27th.” The Digital SAT will be the new normal for college-applying students.

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