Digital SAT Brings Student-Friendly Changes to Test Experience
83% of Students Say They Want Option to Submit Scores in College Applications
New York — College Board announced today that the SAT® Suite of Assessments will be delivered digitally. In November 2021, College Board piloted the digital SAT in the U.S. and internationally; 80% of students responded that they found it to be less stressful and 100% of educators reported having a positive experience.
While the transition to digital will bring a number of student- and educator-friendly changes, many important features of the SAT Suite (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT™ 10, PSAT™ 8/9) will stay the same. The SAT Suite will continue to measure the knowledge and skills that students are learning in high school and that matter most for college and career readiness. The SAT will still be scored on a 1600 scale, and educators and students can continue to track growth across the SAT Suite of Assessments over time. The assessments will continue to be administered in a school or in a test center with a proctor present—not at home. Students will still have access to free practice resources on Khan Academy. And students taking the SAT Suite will continue to connect to scholarships and the College Board National Recognition Programs.
“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. “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. With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs.”
Among the changes: the digital SAT will be shorter—about two hours instead of three for the current SAT, with more time per question. The digital test will feature shorter reading passages with one question tied to each, and passages will reflect a wider range of topics that represent the works students read in college. Calculators will be allowed on the entire Math section. Students and educators will get scores back in days, instead of weeks. And, to reflect the range of paths that students take after high school, digital SAT Suite score reports will also connect students to information and resources about local two-year college, workforce training programs, and career options.
With the transition to digital tests, College Board is working to address inequities in access to technology. Students will be able to use their own device (laptop or tablet) or a school issued device. If students don’t have a device to use, College Board will provide one for use on test day. If a student loses connectivity or power, the digital SAT has been designed to ensure they won’t lose their work or time while they reconnect.
The changes will also make the SAT more secure. With the current paper and pencil SAT, if one test form is compromised it can mean canceling administrations or canceling scores for a whole group of students. Going digital allows every student to receive a unique test form, so it will be practically impossible to share answers.
The SAT will be delivered digitally internationally beginning in 2023 and in the U.S. in 2024. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 will be delivered digitally in 2023 with the PSAT 10 following in 2024. More information about the changes can be found at SAT.org/digital.
Feedback from Fall Pilots: Students Say It’s Easier to Take; Educators Say It’s Easier to Administer
Students who participated in the November global pilot of the digital SAT said the test experience was less stressful than the current paper and pencil test.
“It felt a lot less stressful, and whole lot quicker than I thought it'd be,” said Natalia Cossio, an 11th grade student from Fairfax County, VA who participated in the digital pilot. “The shorter passages helped me concentrate more on what the question wanted me to do. Plus, you don’t have to remember to bring a calculator or a pencil."
In the same pilot, every test proctor who participated responded that the experience administering the digital SAT was the same or better than administering the current paper-and-pencil test. Educators will no longer have to deal with packing, sorting, or shipping test materials. And with changes that make the SAT shorter and easier to administer, states, districts, and schools will have more options for when, where, and how often they administer the SAT—rather than adhering to a fixed schedule. These improvements are especially important because students from all backgrounds increasingly are taking the SAT during the school day. In the class of 2021, 62% of students who took the SAT took it for free in their school on a weekday. Independent research shows that universal school day testing leads to higher college-going rates for low-income students.
“It’s encouraging to see the positive feedback from students and educators who participated in the pilots for the digital SAT. The changes to the test are timely and clearly centered around improving the student experience," said Ronné Turner, Vice Provost for Admissions & Financial Aid at Washington University in St. Louis. “I’m pleased that the greater flexibility in administering the test will expand access to SAT School Day, which research shows increases college-going rates for low-income students.”
An Option for Students to Show Their Strengths
The SAT continues to play a vital role in a holistic admissions process and continues to connect students to postsecondary and scholarship opportunities.
When nearly every college went test optional during the pandemic, millions of students still took the SAT. That trend has continued with the high school class of 2022. Most students want to take the SAT, find out how they did, and then decide if they want to submit their scores to colleges. When surveyed, 83% of students said they want the option to submit test scores to colleges. This finding remains consistent whether or not students have taken the SAT and across race/ethnicity and parents’ level of education.
“In a largely test-optional world, the SAT is a lower-stakes test in college admissions. Submitting a score is optional for every type of college, and we want the SAT to be the best possible option for students. The SAT allows every student—regardless of where they go to high school—to be seen and to access opportunities that will shape their lives and careers,” Rodriguez said. “I am one of those students. I’m a first-generation American, the child of immigrants who came to the U.S. with limited financial resources, and I know how the SAT Suite of Assessments opened doors to colleges, scholarships, and educational opportunities that I otherwise never would have known about or had access to. We want to keep those same doors of opportunity open for all students.”
When viewed within the context of where a student lives and learns, test scores can confirm a student’s grades or demonstrate their strengths beyond what their high school grades may show. In the class of 2020, nearly 1.7 million U.S. students had SAT scores that confirmed or exceeded their high school GPA. That means that their SAT scores were a point of strength on their college applications. Among those students, more than 300,000 were from small towns and rural communities; 600,000 were first-generation college goers; and 700,000 were Black or Latino.
The SAT is an objective measure that is available to students at a time when:
- There are more than 25,000 high schools in the U.S. No college can know and see all of those high schools and each student in them.
- While high school grades are an important reflection of students’ work, the share of students graduating high school with an A average has grown from 39% in 1998 to 55% in 2021.
- Other parts of college applications, including clubs, sports, and academic activities, often are costly and inaccessible for many families.