Put Down Your No. 2 Pencils Forever

SAT test will soon transition to a shorter, fully-online format 

Landen Munns, Co-Editor In Chief

The SAT will soon be taken exclusively on a computer, the College Board announced, ending an era in which high schoolers have had to make sure their No. 2 pencils were sharpened and their answer bubbles were completely filled in. 

Following a pilot of an all-online SAT conducted in November, the College Board said 80% of students reported they found it less stressful than the prior, in-person format. 

The changes come as many colleges say they will no longer require students to submit standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT, a similar test, with their applications. 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 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.

Some Silverado teachers shared their various opinions on the SAT going digital. English teachers Meghan Lamb and Emily Garrard both mentioned that we process information differently online than on paper. 

“There is a major difference in their ability to focus when reading on paper versus on a screen. The brain becomes scattered when reading online.” said Garrard.

Rachel Hughes also made a great point that students are used to being on computers. “I don’t think they would even bat an eye at the change,” said Hughes. “They take the SBAC, MAP testing, other high stakes tests and our Canvas assessments online.”

The changes will make the SAT more secure. With the current paper and pencil SAT, if one test form is compromised, it can mean 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 not be administered online at Silverado until the 2023-2024 school year. The SAT for the 2022-2023 school year will be taken on paper as normal.