The SAT Format is Changing Soon: What Parents of Teens Need to Know

Parents of high school students understand too well the anxiety that many teens face when sitting for the SAT standardized test. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the College Board testing organization into the limelight as students from all over the country grappled with cancelled tests and other roadblocks that disrupted the normal experience.

In response to these difficulties, many colleges and universities canceled the testing requirement for the graduating class of 2021. Some of these institutions have since made the decision to eliminate testing requirements completely. Recognizing that these challenges have changed the college admission landscape, the College Board has made some major changes to the testing process that your teenager will need to know if they plan on sitting for the test in the next few years.

Understanding the SAT

The SAT is a multiple-choice standardized exam that aims to determine a student's readiness for college. Admission officers will look at a number of factors when making their acceptance decisions. In addition to a student's grades and extracurricular activities, admission officers will often take into account the SAT score of an applicant.

While your student is more than just an SAT score, this metric can be an important part of the college admission decision. Most students take the test during their junior year of high school. It is not unusual for some students to take the test more than once in an effort to boost their score.

Here are the important changes that are coming to the SAT in the coming year.

Digital Format

The biggest change coming to the SAT is that the test will be moving to a digital format. This format will allow the test to be adaptive, changing the questions in difficulty based on the real-time performance of the individual student. A digital format will also improve the security of the test. The test will be engineered to guard against a student losing their work in the event of a power outage or other technical issue.

Tests will still be offered onsite at a school or other neutral testing site. The proctored tests will continue to be administered during the school day or on a weekend. There will be no take-home option despite it now being available digitally. However, students are free to use their own laptop or borrow a school-issued device. The College Board will also offer devices for students to use.

One significant benefit of a digital format is that it will not require as much work for the testing proctors since there will not be the issue of packing and organizing the paper materials.

Shortened Test Length

Test-takers will also be relieved to learn that the length of the test is also being shortened. Rather than the usual three-hour exam length, the test will be shortened to just two hours. The questions are slated to be shorter in length as well. For example, the previous lengthy reading passages will soon be replaced with versions that are shorter in length.

In addition, there will only be one question per reading passage. This is a departure from the previous format that tied multiple questions to one unique passage. The goal is to eliminate a wall of text on a digital device.

Calculator Use

Students who have sat for the SAT in the past were able to use their calculator on the designated portion. However, the new changes will allow the use of a calculator on the entire math portion. Test-takers will have the choice of bringing their own approved graphic calculator or using the one that is embedded into the digital exam. This helps to remove barriers for students that cannot afford an expensive graphing calculator.

Faster Test Results

Lastly, anxious parents and students will be relieved to learn that the changes include faster test results. Currently, students need to wait weeks to receive their results. Because of the digital format contributing to an easier and expedited grading process, these results will now be available in just a matter of days.

These SAT changes will be introduced in 2023 for international students. U.S. students will see these changes come into effect in 2024. You can prepare your teen for what lies ahead by becoming more acquainted with the changes.

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