It’s About Time: The SAT Goes Digital


Kasuni Wickramasinghe, Editor-in-chief

The SAT. Otherwise known as Student Administered Torture. 

Just kidding. (Or are we?) 

Many high school students have or will experience the SAT at some point in their high school careers. It’s a three-hour test, complete with a reading, writing, and two math sections: a non-calculator one and a calculator one. Or at least, it used to be. 

The College Board just announced on Tuesday, January 25th, that the SAT is going digital. The new test can be taken on digital devices, like tablets and laptops, or other school issued devices. It will only be two hours long, and a calculator can be used throughout the entire math section. According to the College Board, the reading section will feature a number of shorter passages, with only one question being tied to each. The exam will still be graded on a 1600 point scale, but now scores will be available in a matter of days, instead of the standard 2-3 week waiting period of the paper tests. 

Mrs. Pepperman, an English teacher and one of the teachers of the Morris Hills SAT prep course*, said of the changes that she thinks the digital test is “better for students.” She describes the SAT as “a test of stamina,” saying that the new, shortened test will relieve the burden of a lengthy test. She notes that in particular, the condensed reading sections will be much more manageable for students. Having the SAT shift to digital is “a step in the right direction for students,” Mrs. Pepperman said. “For once,” she laughed, “I agree with [the] College Board.”

In terms of prepping for the SAT, despite the new digital test, Mrs. Pepperman still recommends that students do practice tests on physical copies. She emphasized the importance of annotating tests, using methods of crossing-out and highlighting to thoroughly analyze test questions. She admits that her methods are “old-fashioned,” but overall, she recommends students to prepare for the exam on paper, and then tackle the digital exam with full force.  

By making the SAT digital, the College Board claims that it wants to make the test more “accessible.”  Concerns have long since been raised about the inequality of the SAT, in terms of expensive prep classes and textbooks, as well as the cost of the tests themselves. Students should note that for now, the price of the digital SAT remains the same as the paper test, rounding in at a hefty $52. 

Mrs. Pepperman also weighed in on this aspect of the SAT. She believes that the SAT isn’t representative of “equality” for students. “My hope is that [the SAT] will fade away.” She said she wants college admissions to focus more on four years of academics rather than a score from a two-hour test. “I don’t know if we’re progressing,” she admitted, but she is hopeful that the digital SAT will still benefit students overall. 

In the wake of an increasing number of colleges and universities going test-optional for admissions, the change to a digital test also raises questions about whether standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT will stick around in future years. For now, the SAT remains. The SAT will be administered digitally in the United States in 2024, and will be administered digitally internationally beginning in 2023. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 will also start digital administrations in 2023, and the PSAT 10 will follow in 2024. 

*SAT Preparation is a half-year course (one-semester) offered at Morris Hills to all grade 10 and 11 students as an English elective. Students receive one quarter of mathematics prep, and one quarter of reading and writing prep. Students will learn how the SAT is scored, research the required scores for their desired colleges, and learn how to pace and practice the test.