First Wave of Students Complete Digital SAT Pilot
Lucky students are getting a sneak peak at the new test.
Many juniors around the world have been invited to take part in a digital SAT pilot program. The biggest incentive is that their digital SAT score will count as a real SAT and can be used for college admissions.
The only catch is that the digital SAT scores will not be available until August, which is quite a wait, but well before any early action or early decision deadlines. The reason for the delay almost certainly has to do with the scoring scale. The SAT has touted the shorter, adaptive test as having the same 200-800 per section scale as the current test. Students who participate also need to take either the March or May paper test, so the College Board will have a one-to-one comparison. With all that data to crunch, it’s likely that the mathematicians who work on scoring and scaling will need some time to feel confident with score equivalency.
We’ve been eager to hear about students’ experiences with the digital SAT and have gathered some initial feedback. Here are some general trends we’ve noticed from these first encounters.
The technology seems to be working well
One of the selling points for the digital SAT is ease of access, as students can bring their own computers or tablets and take the test. Students registered for a digital SAT receive an email inviting them to download the software needed to take the test. From what we’ve gathered, this process seemed to go smoothly. We haven’t heard of a student losing connection or having their device crash during the test. “It was easy to navigate and straightforward. Everything went smoothly,” said one Atlanta area student.
Students feel less stressed taking the digital exam
So far, students like the digital SAT and seem to appreciate the features added. One simple feature that’s been reducing stress is having access to the clock. Many testing rooms used by the SAT or ACT do not have a functioning or visible clock, which can add uncertainty for students who didn’t bring a watch.
One student notes, “it was less stressful than the paper pencil test. There was a timer which told me how much I had left. Also, I didn’t have to constantly flip through pages to look at the text again.”
The shorter length also was viewed positively with a student saying, “my brain wasn’t tired by the time I got to the last section.” Multiple students have championed the integration of the Desmos graphing calculator, which can allow students to find answers visually. Even with this feature, some students still preferred the trusty TI-84 that they use in their math classes.
The math feels the same, but the reading is different
Students have expressed their opinions on the similarities and differences between the current and adaptive test. Math seems relatively the same though many students felt that the math was easier than the current SAT. Whether this is because of the built-in calculator or because of the adaptive nature of the test remains to be seen.
However, the reading and writing sections seem to be dramatically different, with shorter passages with only one question each. All and all, students prefer this more focused approach as one student noted, “Personally, I find this much better because if you get bored of a paragraph there is only one question to answer.”
While the Internet is full of rumors of new writing questions and the inclusion of poems, it’s important to remember that these are anecdotal and may not remain when the test goes live internationally in Spring 2023. Those who remember the first wave of practice released for the 2015-2016 redesign will find many examples of questions that no longer appear on the current SAT.
The issue of customer satisfaction
From this initial round of testing, it seems that the College Board has received positive feedback from its core users: high school students. The next challenge for the College Board will be behind closed doors as it tries to convince college admissions officers that they should embrace a new test.