M-A Students React to New Shift to Digital SAT

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For nearly 100 years the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has been synonymous with a physical, on paper experience. However, that all changed in March of 2024 when the College Board administered its first-ever digital SAT. The change was announced in 2022 and came after students and educators alike urged for the switch, claiming that more recently, “students do a lot of their learning and testing digitally.” 

Two of the notable differences include the digital test becoming adaptive and considerably shorter. By being adaptive, the new SAT test reacts to a student’s answers with students either receiving an easier or harder second module. If a student answers a certain threshold of questions incorrectly on the first module, the second module will provide a pre-made assortment of questions that are considered easier. 

However, this results in students obtaining a lower maximum score, meaning that, even if a student answers all their questions correctly in the easier module, their score will hold less weight than someone who correctly answered all questions in the harder module. 

As a result, this adaptation leads to fewer asked questions. Rather than asking a variety of different problems with a drastic range of difficulty, questions can be more personalized to a student’s knowledge. This change has led the test to go from three hours and fifteen minutes to two hours and fourteen minutes. 

The transition to a digital test has also resulted in shorter English module problems. While the previous paper test provided long passages accompanied by numerous questions related to that passage, the digital test includes short increments of text, with only one related question per passage. 

M-A students shared their wide variety of opinions on the switch. Junior Kiela King, who took both the digital and paper SAT, said, “I preferred the paper one because I felt like it was a lot easier. The paper one was also much more straightforward to prepare for because it’s not adaptive.” 

Junior Kasra Motamedi said, “I am glad the test went digital. With the previous one being three hours and 15 minutes, it feels like what was really being assessed was how long you can stay focused, not your understanding of the material.” 

Junior Duru Ruacan added, “I wish the SAT had stayed physical because when I stare at screens for extended periods of time I can have difficulty concentrating.” 

Junior Tatiola Sobomehin said, “I don’t have a strong preference, but would probably lean towards the paper one. This is because it allows me to annotate information more easily and the questions seem to go by faster, however, I do appreciate that the online test is overall shorter.”

A shift towards a digital SAT marks another break from the past and has the potential to continually grow in the realm of standardized testing. 

Mateo is a junior at M-A. This is his first year in journalism. He hopes to write about a variety of issues, ranging from athletic events to administration spending. In his free time he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, and reading.

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