The SAT is going digital — but does it matter?

The College Board is making massive updates to the test as more schools move away from requiring entrance exams.

If you still have nightmares about breaking your No. 2 pencil or filling in the wrong bubble on the SAT test form, you may sleep better after hearing recent news.

The standardized test, which once played a massive role in college admissions, is undergoing a digital transformation, per WSJ.

What’s changing?

Along with the digital format, the new version of the test — which will go live internationally in March 2023 and in the US in March 2024 — has several changes to make it more tolerable:

  • The updated version will take ~2 hours, down from 3
  • Reading passages will be shorter, and math problems will be less wordy
  • Test scores will be available within days rather than weeks

While this is undoubtedly good news for future students, it raises the question: Why the change?

Long story short, business isn’t exactly booming

College Board, the parent company behind the SAT, has faced a slew of challenges in recent years, including:

  • Losing market share to its rival, the ACT
  • Criticism of SAT scores being closely tied to a student’s race and wealth
  • Schools moving away from requiring standardized tests in general

These developments led to a ~27% drop in the fees collected for College Board’s services and programs in 2020. And it’s likely to get worse — 76%+ of 4-year colleges won’t require entrance exams this year.

Not everyone is out on the SAT

Students from wealthy households are still flaunting their scores, with 53% submitting the test this year compared to 39% from lower-income households.

So if the SAT still haunts your dreams, rest assured future generations won’t have to feel your pain — unless they want to.

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