You Should be Excited for the Digital SAT

At least, compared to the old version

Sara Torres, staff

After decades of keeping relatively the same format, the SAT is undergoing a monumental change: transferring from three hours of paper-and-pencil testing to two hours of online testing. Yes, it may seem like just another move to the virtual lifestyle, but this change might actually prove to be quite beneficial to students.
Beginning in the Spring of 2024, students taking the SAT will begin taking a test greatly different than that currently offered. The first major difference is the significant reduction in test time, which tends to be a student’s biggest enemy. Not only has an hour been shaved off the clock, but the ratio between time and questions to answer is also shifting. If you are expecting to attempt each part, the current exams allow students a mere 1 minute and 10 seconds per question. However, this new, shorter test, will provide almost 15% more time at 1 minute and 35 seconds per question. Running out of time is not a rare occurrence on the SAT. Junior Eliza Boniface took the October SAT and she explained that at the “end of one of the math sections [she] ran out of time on the free response questions.” If the College Board is making a change, clearly Boniface is not the only one with this timing issue.

Accessibility is another significant shift of the digital test. The current reading section consists of roughly five passages that are 500 to 700 words each, with 10-11 questions per passage. The new passages will reflect a broader range of topics, representing works that students will read in college. Junior Sienna Green says that while taking the SAT she “got a difficult historical reading, which made it hard for [her] to answer the questions that went along with the passage.” Now, passages will be shorter and have only one question relating to them. If a student is confused by a passage or unable to comprehend what it’s saying, it will have less of an impact on their score. The math section is getting an upgrade too, students may use calculators on all parts, rather than only on the designated calculator permitted section.

Possibly one of the best, if not the best, changes that the digital SAT brings is the time it takes students to get their scores back. Right now getting your score back can take anywhere from two weeks to over a month from your testing date. This new digital format allows College Board to provide students with their scores in a matter of days, minimizing the anxiety-inducing time that students spend waiting for their scores. Senior Nolyn Boswell described the feeling when waiting to get his scores back as if he’s “still taking the test, [it’s] like one of the breaks but instead of five minutes it’s four weeks.”
Students will be able to access this test on their laptop or tablet, along with any school-issued device. To address inequalities in technology access, College Board has stated that they will provide the student with a device to use. Additionally, the digital SAT is designed to ensure that students will not lose any work or time if they lose connectivity or power during the test.
It’s no doubt that prospective SAT takers should be happier with the new format.