By Suzanne Wood, Raleigh Tutoring
If you’ve got kids in high school, you may have heard that the SAT is changing–again. The current version, in use since 2016, will undergo its biggest transformation yet when it becomes a much shorter, all-digital test in March 2024. Why the change? Officials at the College Board, which makes and administers the SAT, say that the new test will be better aligned, both in content and platform, with the kind of testing today's high schoolers are used to.
This change will affect current sophomores, freshmen, and all future high schoolers. If you’ve got kids in this age group, here’s what you need to know going forward:
The PSAT will change first. In the fall of 2023, students who want to take the PSAT–sophomores or juniors interested in participating in the National Merit Scholarship–will take the new version of the test. Like previous PSATs, this version will also resemble the actual SAT but will be slightly shorter and easier.
The new SAT will be about one hour shorter than the current one. Students will also be allowed to use a calculator–either one they bring or the calculator that will be built into the exam–on all math problems. Currently, there are about 20 math questions on the SAT that are no-calculator allowed.
The scoring will stay the same. The new digital test will still have two sections–math and reading/writing–and the scoring scale on each will remain 200-800 per section. Therefore, the total score maximum will still be 1,600.
The reading and writing sections will be shorter. Instead of 600-word passages with 10 or 11 questions, the new verbal section will feature shorter passages with only one question each.
The testing locations remain the same. Schools will still administer the PSAT and SAT.
Students will provide their own laptops. However, they’ll need to download a free program called Bluebooks prior to the test in order to log into it. The College Board says this program is compatible with chromebooks, MACs and PCs. For students who don’t have their own computers, the College Board will have loaners available.
Study materials are available now. While it’s likely all the major test-prep companies will develop their own digitally based study guides, for now the best place to test-drive the test is through the College Board or its partner company, Khan Academy. The websites of each of these organizations has practice tests and study materials available now. The College Board website has a section devoted to the new test. Check it out at https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/digital