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The College Board’s Desperate Attempt to Stay Relevant

Jan 25, 2022

The College Board announced this morning that the SAT will be both shortened and offered digitally. The new changes will be implemented internationally in 2023 and in the U.S. in 2024. Here are the major changes you should be aware of:

  • Students will take the exam on their own laptop or tablet, on a school device, or on a device provided by the College Board.
  • The test will now take about two hours to complete, as opposed to three.
  • Proctors will continue to administer the test in schools or test centers.
  • The test will use adaptive testing, changing based on students’ answers.
  • Students will be allowed more time to answer each question.
  • Students are expected to receive their scores within days, not weeks.
  • Calculators will be allowed on the entire math section.
  • Reading passages will be shorter than on the current test, and students will only be asked to answer one question related to each passage.

The new changes are being implemented in an effort to make the test “easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” according to a College Board Vice President, Priscilla Rodreiguez.

The organization intends to make the test more secure, as paper booklets and answers sheets will no longer have to be shipped for grading. The test will save students’ work in the event that they experience internet or other connectivity issues and need to reconnect their device. The adaptive testing will also prevent students from cheating off of each other.

The College Board announced the new test at a time when the future of standardized testing is being called into question. Since the start of the pandemic, many schools have adopted test-optional policies regarding the SAT and ACT. The new policies resulted from lack of access to testing during the pandemic, though the equity and relevance of standardized testing had long been called into question. While many students are still choosing to sit for the test, the SAT’s future as a key player in the college admissions process sits on shaky ground.

We think that the new changes are really the College Board’s desperate attempts to stay relevant in college admissions well into the future. Students take colleges’ test-optional policies at face value, resulting in a decreased number of students sitting for the SAT. The College Board’s reformatting of the exam comes as a solution to decreased revenue. Despite this new format, colleges will continue to focus on other parts of applications: academic success in a school setting, which we know is far more reflective of students potential success in their future college classes, and on extracurricular and community involvement. Though excellent academics lie at the foundation of any successful application, we know that students must stand out beyond just grades and test scores to gain admission to Ivy League and top tier schools. Students are successful when they devote themselves to what they truly care about, no matter what it is, use that enthusiasm to better themselves and their communities, and fuel their desire to learn. 

The SAT, new or old, fails to reflect anything unique about any applicant other than their ability to sit for a test or their access to adequate test preparation and tutoring. Try as they might, the College Board and their new test will soon be obsolete.

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