There’s no longer a need for a No. 2 pencil and filling in ovals when taking the SAT as the optional test used to measure a student’s reading, writing and math comprehension when applying to college moves to a fully-digital format in March 2024.
The decision to switch to administer the test digitally was made based on trends in education, where students learn using technology more frequently, according to College Board. The exam will still be administered in proctored test centers.
Students will be able to use personal or school-issued devices to take the test. For weekend SAT administrations moving forward, H. Frank Carey testing coordinator and school counselor Rachel Tufano said that Sewanhaka school district students will use school-issued devices to take the exam. Students outside of the district will use their own devices and students who can’t provide a device because of financial concerns, can contact the College Board to provide a device.
Students are expected to have the Bluebook, the exam application, downloaded beforehand and have their device charged, ready to take the test.
College Board said that Bluebook is built to withstand internet outages, so students won’t have to worry about losing their work. However, if there are any technological issues on test day, College Board will have a technology monitor for each test center.
Students who chose to take the PSAT last month did so in the digital format expected during the March 2024 SAT. Within the Sewanhaka school district, 1,200 11th-grade students took the PSAT during a school day on Oct. 18.
“For this, I feel like we had a lot of time to prepare, so that put this district in a position to intentionally offer the digital PSAT on Oct. 18 as a school day administration so that we could be more prepared for the transition to digital,” said Regina Agrusa, deputy superintendent.
From an educator standpoint, Tufano said that College Board shared a lot of information in advance to help schools and coordinators prepare for the PSAT’s digital administration this year.
“The students also seemed to really like the new format, just in terms of the (digital aspect),” Tufano said. “They’re all really using electronic devices at this point, so I think for them it’s a little bit more second nature to just take it on their iPads or the device that they have.”
She said the reduced time for the test, as SAT shrinks from three hours down to two hours and 14 minutes, helped students get through the exam. In past years, Tufano has seen students feel drained after sitting through the three-hour exam.
“I really didn’t get that sense this time around,” Tufano said.
The school district chose not to administer the exam on the first day offered for the PSAT in October, so that administrators could learn from other school districts what worked and what didn’t during exam administration.
Tufano said that College Board had sent out a message to update iPad software to a more current operating system. On the administration day though, any student with the updated software could not take the exam on that device as it was not compatible with College Board’s software. This led the Sewanhaka school district to troubleshoot which students had the updated software and which one’s didn’t to figure out who needed a different device to take the PSAT.
“We’re in the business of administering standardized tests, it’s what we do,” Agrusa said. “And this time, it really took a collaboration with our technology folks — which is not something we would typically need to do when administering a PSAT or an SAT. So, there was a tremendous amount of work that we did in our five buildings in order to be prepared.”
For the SAT, Tufano said it’s a “wait and see” situation as to if there will be any similar issues during the March administration of the exam. The College Board works directly with school leaders, so school district leadership will know what device compatibility is required ahead of the test date.
Results for the exam, given the new digital testing, will be expected sooner than their delivery in previous years, College Board says. With the digital SAT suite, College Board said that students can expect their results in days instead of weeks.