Questions about the Digital SAT?

Questions about the Digital SAT?

From the Author News Tests

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.
The Digital SAT: A Brave, New Frontier

The Digital SAT: A Brave, New Frontier

From the Author News Tests

The College Board announced on Tuesday, January 25, that the SAT will be going digital in 2024.  As if *that* isn’t big enough news, they are also changing the format substantively to be more student-friendly.

So What’s Changing?

  • Moving to an all-digital format – bring your own device or use one of the College Board’s
  • Shorter overall test time – approximately 2 hours instead of 3 hours
  • More time per question
  • Much shorter reading passages
  • Built in graphing calculator for ALL math questions
  • Adaptive scoring – performance on the first section of topic affects the difficulty of the second section
  • Much faster score receipt – in days rather than weeks

Overall, the changes are good for students!

When Is All This Happening?

  • International SAT administrations will go digital in Spring 2023
  • The PSAT will go digital in Fall 2023
  • U.S. SAT and SAT School Day dates will go digital in Spring 2024

What Does That Mean For My High School Student?

  • Junior and Seniors (Class of 2022 and 2023) – Nothing will be different!!  Carry on!!
  • Sophomores (Class of 2024) – Most students will be finished with testing before changes happen.
  • Freshman (Class of 2025) – You are the class this will affect first.  Nothing to worry about yet though!  We’ll keep you up to date with all the important changes including when practice will be available for you.

What Questions Are Still Out There About All This?

  • Will the College Board stick to their announced timeline?  We think yes.  In insider presentations, they’ve had a lot of opportunity to plan and test and are very confident.
  • Will digital SAT scores be equal to current SAT scores (and the concorded ACT scores)?  The College Board says yes.  We shall see.
  • How will adaptive sections be scored?  That hasn’t been announced; however, the GRE uses a similar structure and can possibly provide an early guide.
  • How will students with accommodations test?  Current College Board guidance says that only Braille and similar types of 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 by the end of 2022. We will keep you updated!

SAT vs. ACT?

SAT vs. ACT Tests

Which one should I take?

It’s junior year; the time has come.

Time to start considering the college admissions process. A big part of that process is taking the SAT or ACT to apply to college. So the questions loom: 

  • Which test do you take?  
  • Should you take both? 
  • Which one is easier?

Understanding the answers to these questions can make a significant difference in your college admissions process. Here are a few important points to consider:

  • All colleges accept both tests. This is great. Having the freedom to submit either test to your college of choice allows you to pick the test that works best for you.  
  • You should prep only for the test that suits you best. Most students do better on one test or the other. You can figure out which one is better for you by taking a practice and then comparing it to your PSAT or SAT results. Use our handy comparison tables to compare your results.
  • Each test has a different feel. The ACT is more straightforward, but much more quickly paced. The SAT is slower paced, but wordier and uses more complex vocabulary. The ACT tests all types of math; whereas the SAT focuses primarily on Algebra. The SAT has a math section that does not allow a calculator. The ACT includes a Science Reasoning section which tests data analysis skills more thoroughly than those skills are tested on the SAT. Pick the test that aligns best with your personal style and gives you the highest score.

Use these tips when beginning to formulate your testing plan. Creating a testing strategy helps to maximize your results and remove stress from the process. Woodlands Test Prep can help!  Call us at 713.205.1807 today for a free 30-minute consultation on your test prep strategy. 

And click here for our in-depth discussion of PSAT scores and National Merit considerations.