4 minute read
Students’ time with paper SATs is winding down – we’re going to start seeing digital versions of the College Board’s tests later this very year – for the October PSAT. The Answer Class is committed to providing our community with the most up-to-date information on this change, so this is the first of a two-part blog series covering everything that we currently know about the digital SAT. Part I will discuss the main ideas of the digital SAT and any notable changes, and Part II, which will be published next month, will go deeper into changes and information about the SAT’s content and sections. These blogs contain a lot of information, so we recommend bookmarking them for future reference.
Psst – is this the first time that you’re hearing about this switch from paper SATs to digital? Start with our previous two blogs about this change: Going Digital: The SAT Enters the Paperless Age and Adapting to Adaptive SAT Testing.
The College Board has released two reports concerning the digital SAT: the “Assessment Framework for the Digital SAT Suite” and “The Digital SAT Suite of Assessments Specifications Overview”, in which the “Suite” refers to the SAT, PSAT, and PSAT for 8th and 9th graders. These reports total about 220 pages long, so we’ll give you the SparkNotes version.
- The College Board intends for the digital SAT to be “a less stressful, more accessible experience for all students and educators while retaining the value, rigor, and predictive power” of the current SAT. (Predictive power meaning that the SAT is meant to predict a student’s level of success in college.) The main ideas of the document are centered on the digital SAT being “easier to take, easier to give, more secure, and more relevant.”
- One of the points that the College Board has been very clear on is that even though the style will change from linear testing to adaptive testing, the “content domains, constructs, and score scales” will stay the same.
Main Idea 1: The Test is Easier to Take
- The whole test-taking experience will be more streamlined and about an hour shorter.
- Students will be able to flag and annotate questions, much like they currently can on a paper test.
- No more nightmares about calculator batteries dying – the test will have a built-in graphing calculator.
- The digital test will have fewer separately timed sections.
Main Idea 2: The Test is Easier to Give
- The testing platform itself, rather than the test proctor, will time the sections.
- The SAT will be able to be given more frequently and specifically more often during school days.
- In cases of battery or technical glitches, students’ responses will be saved on the platform until the test can resume when the issue is resolved.
Main Idea 3: The Test is More Secure
Here are some scenarios that students won’t have to worry about anymore:
- An instance of actual or suspected cheating that will cause a whole classroom’s or school’s tests to be invalidated.
- Tests getting lost in transit between collection, shipping, or scoring.
- Bad actors taking pictures of large amounts of test material, since the digital tests will only display one question at a time.
- Another test-taker looking over a student’s shoulder at an answer, since they’ll be answering different questions.
Main Idea 4: The Test is More Relevant
- Unlike the paper test, which focused on a few longer passages to which many questions relate, the digital SAT will have many more short passages that each correspond to a single question. More passages means more opportunities to represent different perspectives.
- The College Board’s early research on students’ experiences taking the digital SAT suggests that students are more engaged and interested in the material.
Check back next month for the second blog in this series on the digital SAT. And for students that have an SAT coming up in the next few months, be sure to lock in your registration for an in-person or live, virtual SAT (or ACT!) prep class before they fill up.