What leaders should know about the new digital SAT

It'll save students and educators about an hour of testing, for starters. Here's what The College Board told District Administration about the revamped exam.

This week, U.S. students are ditching pencil and paper as they begin taking the newly revamped digital-only SAT for the first time. But why the change?

The new style of test-taking gives students the option of using their own devices, such as a laptop or tablet, or a school-issued device to take the exam. They’ll still be required to take the SAT at a testing center or a high school.

In an email to District Administration, a spokesperson for The College Board, the organization that administers the exam, says the transition to digital was made to streamline the process for both educators and students.

“We’ve made this transition to digital because of the benefits to students and schools that digital makes possible, including a shorter test—yet with more time per question—and greater flexibility in terms of when, where and how often the SAT is given, particularly for states, districts and schools offering the SAT to all of their students as part of SAT School Day,” says College Board.

SAT School Day runs from March 4 to April 26.

What to expect

Gone are the days of passing out individual test booklets and ensuring each student has their own #2 pencil.

The test is about one hour shorter (down from three hours), has briefer reading passages and offers students digital tools such as a highlighter, a calculator and a bookmark to revisit skipped questions.

“As we’ve designed the digital SAT suite, we have listened to educators and students and will continue to adapt to ensure we meet their evolving needs,” says College Board.

It has also designed the platform to mitigate technical issues, too.

“Bluebook, College Board’s digital testing app, was designed with security at the forefront,” wrote College Board. “Students can’t work in any other program or application while the test is running and work can’t be posted into the exam app from another program or application.”

In the event of a student disconnecting from the internet during testing, they will still be able to progress through the test. If their device runs out of battery, they can simply plug it in, restart their device and resume the test where they left off.

“All their work will be saved and they won’t lose testing time,” says College Board. “Ninety-seven percent of students who took the digital SAT in 2023 shared that Bluebook was easy to use.”

As for students who require special services, College Board says it will continue to support students with individualized education plans and disabilities as they transition to this new style of testing.

“The process for requesting accommodations for the digital SAT remains the same,” wrote College Board.

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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