Questions about the Digital SAT?

Questions about the Digital SAT?

Here’s a quick take on questions about the upcoming switch to a digital SAT:

  • Will the College Board stick to their announced timeline?  We think yes.  In presentations late last week that included test prep colleagues, they stated that they’ve had a lot of opportunity to plan and test and are very confident.  There will be NO overlap between paper and digital formats in a given geography.
  • Will fees or test dates change?  The College Board has said nothing about fees.  Over 60% of SAT testers tested on School Day test dates in the last couple years.  The announcement indicates that schools will have additional flexibility in choosing when to administer the test.  Along those lines, we anticipate changes to national test dates, in part to accommodate the additional administrative and technological burden of conducting digital testing.
  • Will digital SAT scores be equal to current SAT scores (and the concorded ACT scores)?  In those same presentations, the College Board says yes. There will be no concordance required from current SAT to digital SAT. Section sub-scores will no longer exist as Reading and Writing questions will be mixed in the two verbal sections.  They did assure that the same skills are being tested.
  • How will adaptive sections be scored?  This hasn’t been announced specifically; however, the GRE uses a similar structure and can possibly provide an early guide since the ETS creates both the SAT and the GRE.
  • How will students with accommodations test?  Current College Board guidance says that only Braille and raised-line accommodations will continue to test on paper.  We shall see how that holds up.
  • When will practice be available?  This is the $64,000 question!  The College Board says that multiple full-length tests will be available through Khan Academy by the end of 2022. We will keep you updated!
  • Will this help equity issues in college admissions?  Access to technology for both practice ahead of time and functionality while taking the test is an issue the College Board has not fully addressed.  While they have committed to providing devices for test-taking, it is clear that a student bringing his or her own familiar device has an advantage over one using an unfamiliar one with much less practice.
  • What will ACT, Inc. do?  The ACT has been testing digitally in school districts and internationally for many years.  Their 2019 announced move to computer-based testing and section-only retesting in U.S.-based national test dates was put on hold during the pandemic.  While they have been mum so far, it seems likely that they will refocus on rolling out their version of digital testing more widely sooner rather than later.

How will this change affect this year’s freshmen (Class of 2025?)

  • As the first class affected by this change, our first concern is the availability of practice materials.  The new SAT that launched in 2016 suffered from a lack of materials, especially in time for high-scoring students focused on National Merit Scholarship possibilities.  If enough materials are available by the end of the year (as promised), we will have more confidence in our early testers’ timelines.
  • Speaking of National Merit, we are concerned that these students will take the last paper PSAT administration (dinosaur) as preparation for the NMSQT digital version their junior year.  College Board has heard this feedback from many corners.  We hope this feedback will lead to possible access to digital PSAT testing for them during their sophomore year, or some other way to give them real-world practice prior to the high-stakes junior year digital PSAT.
  • Strong testers and students who have completed Algebra II as sophomores may choose to test earlier or more frequently prior to the change in an effort to get testing finished by the end of 2023.  
  • Many other students will follow the pattern of 2016 and just avoid the SAT altogether for the 2023-2024 academic year to wait until all the kinks have been worked out.  We expect to work with a LOT more ACT students.
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