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The SAT Goes Digital in 2024

Juniors are gearing up to take the new digital SAT in March as colleges continue to debate the relevance of the SAT in college admissions
The SAT Goes Digital in 2024

As we approach March 2024, many juniors at PRHS are preparing to take the new digital SAT after the last paper SAT was administered in December 2023- but many others students feel doubtful about the continuation of standardized testing in U.S. college admissions, especially as private schools like Dartmouth have reinstated standardized testing.

The digital SAT provides students with a new format and time length compared to the traditional pen and paper exam. The test has been shortened from the three hours on paper to two hours online. The length the formatting of the exam has also changed to be an adaptive test, which means the test will access difficulty of the next question set by how well you do on the previous set of questions. 

Another major change made to the digital SAT is the authorization and integration of a calculator throughout the entire math section of the exam. In previous iterations of the SAT and PSAT, their would be a calculator and no calculator section of the math section of the exam. Due to the new length, format, and calculator additions to the examination, students can experience a test that is catered to their own efforts and knowledge in math and reading.

Last year, PRHS juniors took the digital PSAT on October 25, 2023 and the pen and paper PSAT 10 on April 11, 2023.  In a survey taken by PRHS students suggests that 75% feel that it was easier to take the PSAT digitally then the pen and paper PSAT 10 providing evidence that the digital SAT is easier for students.

Jessica Shatwell, College Counselor

“It’s going to be  a faster test so it’s not going to take as long there’s going to be less room for error because you’re not fumbling in the specific name address all of the number like school details, so you’re not having to worry about all of the pre loaded information because it’s all going to be digital.”

 

 

The average digital PSAT score at PRHS according to score reports on the CollegeBoard website was a 1032. Compared to the pen and paper SAT, the California average score was an 1083 according to Prep Scholar, this provides insight into the benefits of the digital testing option for the SAT. 

“It’s much easier to administer the PSAT digitally and it’s much easier for the students as well,” Shatwell said.

The digital SAT works to improve many formerly-criticized aspects of the traditional SAT comes, but it’s not without it’s downsides: problems can occur during the exam especially during it’s initial international rollout.

One possible problem for the PSAT is the possibility that if the internet goes out during the examination students will not be able to continue the exam until internet has returned or will retake it on another day. “If we lose internet and if it’s on the day that we’re doing the SAT that would be very challenging,” Shatwell admitted.

According to College Board, Bluebook, the digital program the PSAT is administered on, is designed to withstand the possibility of an internet outage during test day and will save students progress if an untimely event of an internet outage occurs on test day.

                  Ava Friedling, 11

 

The paper examination may be better suited for students that prefer paper exams as junior, Ava Friedling, points out. “I like being able to write out my ideas, Friedling said.. “So (I prefer) paper tests honestly.”   

An anonymous senior says that the digitization of the SAT, “marks an attempt to make the SAT a little more student friendly” through the shorter test length and digital format. 

 

For juniors at PRHS, the digitization of the SAT won’t make a difference in college outlooks as many students either don’t plan on attending college or they are relying on colleges being test optional. According to a survey completed by PRHS students, 64.7% of students believe that colleges do not value the SAT. 

According to Crimson Education, there are 1,843 colleges in the US that are test optional and 35.3% of PRHS juniors think that while many colleges are test optional it is still a good idea to take the exam.

               Adane Siegrist, 11

“If you do not go to college it is beneficial and if you do go to college it prepares you for tests in college,” junior Adane Siegrist said.

Although, the SAT may be a good gauge for college readiness, the UC college systems in America has adopted a test-blind approach to reviewing students applications, meaning that they view how well rounded a student is as whole including, extracurriculars, stats, essays, and AP test scores excluding test scores. 

With a more holistic approach to reviewing applications Shatwell feels students shouldn’t worry about their SAT scores. 

“It’s going to be what your SAT score is, what your GPA is, what you do, in high school in general, how you are spending your time and for the schools that are highly selective, that whole broad  overview of a student is going to be what’s important to them.” Shatwell said.

It may not last for long, though: The UC system will be moving on to a new standardized test starting in the fall of 2025, however this is contingent on the tests completion after the University of California Board of Regents approved these testing requirements in 2020.  

Shatwell’s suggests that students taking the SAT is should check the university or college admissions requirements before applying and checking the average SAT scores for the university or college to see if your score aligns with the university or college. 

“It is for some schools, but not for many for our California public universities. They’re all test free right now, but they do like to see your scores. They can place you appropriately.“ Shatwell said.

 

 

 

 

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About the Contributor
Margot Klo, News Co-Director

Margot Klo is a junior and is in her second year of Crimson as the co-News Director. She is excited to continue to write on important topics and make a big impact on the school this year. She is also a part of the Paso High Theatre Company as one of the Assistant Stage Managers. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, drawing, and spending time with her four cats.

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