College Board Makes Major Changes To SAT

Natalie Bachman

In January 2022, College Board announced that the SAT would be administered digitally beginning in 2024. The new format, designed to increase accessibility to the exam, has been brought about in an era where students and educators are questioning the validity of standardized tests. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a unique impact on the college admissions process: the SAT was no longer required for admission to many universities. Although “test optional” policies were supposed to be temporary, universities soon discovered that the exam was not as telling as they once believed. California public schools have permanently halted the use of standardized test scores in admissions, and many private schools have continued to extend their “test optional” policies, even after testing opportunities became more readily available.

This has resulted in significant losses for the College Board. In 2018, over 2 million students took an SAT exam. That number was down to a meager 990,000 in 2021. The College Board hopes that the new format will “meet the evolving needs of students and educators,” increasing accessibility to the test.

The new SAT will still be scored on a 1600 point scale, and will also test the standard subjects of reading, writing, and math. However, the new exam will be adaptive (similar to the CAASPP). Each subject will have multiple sections, and the students’ performance in one section will determine the difficulty of another. The Desmos graphing calculator will be allowed on the entire math section, and the reading passages will be much shorter (some with as little as one related question). As a whole, the SAT will also be shortened to 2 hours, compared to the current 3 hours.

Although the College Board is just beginning to make these changes, standardized testing has been a highly debated topic for many years. A study conducted by the Teachers College Record confirmed that students from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly Black students and those of low-income, perform over 100 points worse on the SAT than their middle-income, white counterparts. Regardless, the College Board wants their new SAT to be the ”best possible option for students to show their strengths” and allows students from all backgrounds to “keep those same doors of opportunity open.”

So what does this mean for current Leigh students? It means that all current freshmen who decide to take the SAT after December of their Junior year will be taking the SAT online. Freshman who want to take the old SAT must take it sometime between August and December of that same year. The PSAT/NMSQT will also be administered online, despite taking place in October 2023. Free SAT preparation resources on Khan Academy will be updated to correspond with the new version of the test as well.

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