The SAT® is making changes and is becoming an online test. It will continue to be administered at schools and test centers with a proctor. It is not planned as an in-home test. Calculators will still be allowed. The reading passages will be shorter and have one question tied to each.

This online SAT® change will be gradual over the next two years. The SAT® will be digital internationally in 2023, and in the U.S. in 2024. The PSAT/NMSQT® and PSAT 8/9 will be digital in 2023, and the PSAT 10 will be digital in 2024. Test questions will remain somewhat the same, but the way students take the test will be different.

COMPUTERIZED ADAPTIVE TESTING (CAT) 

With all the hoopla about the changes, the biggest change is not that it's taken online. The biggest change is that the SAT® will become a computerized adaptive test. Computerized adaptive tests are also called:

  • Computer-adaptive tests
  • Adaptive tests

BENEFITS OF COMPUTERIZED ADAPTIVE TESTING 

  • Faster results
  • More fair test
  • Less stressful
  • Less frustration
  • Shorter test time
  • Fewer missed answers
  • More positive experience
  • More precise score result
  • Personalized for each student

In general, computerized adaptive testing is designed to make each test a perfect fit for each specific student by tailoring the questions the student sees. An adaptive test usually begins with a medium-difficult question. If the student gets it right, the next questions get harder. If the student gets it wrong, they may get easier questions. For that reason, with computerized-adaptive tests, the first questions on the test are most important. Be the most careful in the beginning. At the same time, students should also answer every question, even if they need to guess. Everyone will miss some questions, because the questions get harder for the individual as the test continues. 

COMPUTERIZED ADAPTIVE TESTS HAVE BEEN USED FOR YEARS 

  • Accuplacer (currently used for college placement)
  • GRE (currently used for graduate school admission)
  • GMAT (currently used for graduate management program admission)
  • NCLEX (currently used for nursing licensure)

The ACT® Test has been talking about becoming a computer adaptive test since 2016. At this time they are digital, but not a computer-adaptive test. That may change in the future. 

PREP FOR COMPUTERIZED ADAPTIVE TESTS 

My own children took them, and nobody got hurt. They have been around a while, so I'm not too concerned about bugs in the programming ruining a score. Because the test questions and wording will be much the same, continue to study for test prep using paper and pencil versions. When you get close to the time of taking the test online, practice the online digital format as well. That practice is not yet available, but the College Board has a plan to provide free, full-length practice tests on Khan Academy.

In the pilot study, the students said this test was easier to take, and schools and educators said that it was easier for them to administer.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SAT® CHANGE:

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PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.