Here’s how your student can prepare for changes coming to the SAT

The SAT is now digital and much more adaptive

ROANOKE, Va. – If you have a child considering college, several changes are coming to the SAT.

For anyone who does not know, the SAT is the standardized test most college admissions use.

Students will no longer have to take the test using paper or pencil. The SAT is now digital. Students will take the test on their laptops or tablets, using an app called Bluebook.

The SAT will also be more adaptive. Both math and reading sections will be divided into two sections. How you perform on the first part will determine the difficulty level for the second part of the exam.

“The first verbal section, which is the first section of the test, will be hard, medium and easy questions. If a student does well, they’re not gonna have the student waste time on the next section doing easy questions. That student will just be given hard and medium questions,” said Director of Outreach David Blobaum with the National Test Prep Association.

The scoring process is still the same. Anyone taking the exam will still receive a score out of 1600. However, making the test more adaptive can still affect someone’s score.

“Now, each question is weighted differently based upon difficulty level. So, getting a hard question right could help your score more than getting an easy question right. While getting an easy question wrong could hurt your score more than getting a hard question wrong,” said Blobaum.

Meanwhile, the new standardized test will be shorter. It will now be a little more than two hours instead of three hours. Anyone taking the test will also have the option of using a digital calculator.

“In 2020, the vast majority of colleges in the country went test-optional because the SATs and ACTs are given at schools and schools were shut down. So, colleges were forced to go test-optional because a lot of students could not take the test. Now, there’s a slow reversion back to, not necessarily requiring, but emphasizing scores,” said Blobaum.

Since colleges and universities are going back to emphasizing test scores, Blobaum said that the SAT wanted to make the test easier for students.

“They know that a big barrier to taking the test is trying to focus for three hours straight,” said Blobaum.

Many colleges or universities don’t require students to take the SAT anymore. While it’s not a requirement for some schools, Blobaum said students and parents should google the colleges or universities’ names and search data sets to see what percentage of enrolled students submitted their test scores. This can help be an indicator of whether schools want SAT scores.

“So for instance, Pepperdine University, in their common data set, only 22% of enrolled students submitted test scores. That’s 78% of students that did not submit test scores. You can absolutely get into Pepperdine University just based on grades alone. But, you contrast that with Duke where 93% of enrolled students submitted test scores. That’s only 7% that didn’t submit test scores, and that 7% is likely students that fit a very high institutional priority, like a recruited athlete,” said Blobaum.

Blobaum said that specific majors, like nursing, tend to prefer when students submit their SAT scores as well.


About the Author:

Keshia Lynn is a Multimedia Journalist for WSLS. She was born and raised in Maryland and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Society from American University and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.