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Pencils Down! Forever | Sophie Sills

The SAT. Utter this infamous three-letter acronym and you will surely bring pain to nearly all of your upperclassman friends. I remember the day I went in to take the test, standing in line, hoping that all of the hours that I’d put into completing the god-awful practice tests and re-learning all of the math I’d learned in middle school would come to fruition. I remember sitting in my cold, hard seat at some high school I’d never even heard of, struggling through the exhausting, nearly four-hour test, surrounded by about 10 other kids who looked just as miserable, if not more so than me. Times are changing though, and as more and more colleges make the decision to go test-optional or even test blind, students are less and less compelled to take the test, which slowly but surely has brought great trouble to the companies that profit from students taking the SAT.

As many of us know, the SAT belongs to the College Board Organization, the same corporation that is in charge of the AP Tests we dread each May. Pre-pandemic, the SAT was College Board’s main moneymaker, but as colleges are loosening their standardized testing requirements and students are losing interest, the seemingly all-powerful organization is struggling to stay afloat. Due to this, they have decided to adapt.

Just a couple of days ago, College Board announced that the SAT will be undergoing some MAJOR changes. For starters, the trademark test packets and bubble sheets will be no more. Starting in 2024, the exam will be taken through an exclusively digital platform, more similar to our not-so-beloved STAR tests. Additionally, the test will be adaptive, adjusting for each and every student and making test administrators’ jobs much easier. Arguably the most major change though is that the test time will be cut down from over three hours to just two, with fewer questions and more time for each. This change aims to decrease the fatigue that builds up throughout the test in order to obtain more accurate readings of a test-taker’s abilities.

In terms of changes to the specific subject areas, there are definitely a couple to be noted. First off, the reading passages will be made more relevant and much shorter, with just one single question connected to each as opposed to the dreaded nine to eleven. It seems that this will be helpful to students, as today’s fast-paced, largely digital world has greatly shortened our attention spans and trained our brains to focus on bursts of fast-moving stimuli as opposed to long, droning passages with a lengthy series of questions attached. Additionally, in terms of the math section, the entirety of the questions will allow the use of a calculator which will be built into the testing software, removing the annoyance of having to waste time doing simple calculations.

The one thing that interests me though, is just how drastic these changes are. In previous years, the SAT has tweaked and even removed sections, but the general framework of the test has remained basically the same. Now though, it seems that all of the defining features of the SAT are either being removed or revamped to adapt to today’s learning models. The fact that the SAT is more old-school is (in my opinion) probably one of its most defining characteristics, so it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens when this seemingly life-determining test is reduced to little more than the tests we take every so often in our homerooms.

In general, though, it seems that these changes will make the experience of taking the SAT much more positive and much less exhausting than in previous years. Because the test is more adapted to our modern ways of learning, students will likely have to spend less time both studying for and taking the test, which will likely make for a much more pleasant and much less stressful testing experience for everyone involved.


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