For nearly a century, the SAT has been revised on a regular basis to reflect educational priorities in reading, writing, and math. However, every version of the test has shared one fundamental trait–it was administered on paper.
The newest version of the SAT has been rebuilt from the ground up to embody the first truly digital expression of this assessment, as opposed to current computer-based presentations of the paper-and-pencil SAT and ACT. Such a dramatic departure from the norm demands careful consideration of all the elements of testing we typically take for granted:
The digital SAT and PSAT will still, at least for the near future, be administered at conventional test centers, which usually means high schools.
Again, the immediate future of the digital SAT will follow the current practice of morning administrations on national test dates, along with various Sunday and school-day administrations. Sooner or later, though, test centers may be able to offer multiple start times across multiple days of a designated testing period.
The most important question focuses on exactly what device test takers will need to use to take the digital SAT: their own. Instead of requiring school-provided testing platforms, each student can use any supported Windows laptop or tablet, a Mac laptop, an iPad, or a school-managed Chromebook of their choice. This multitude of options is enabled by College Board’s Bluebook app, which powers the testing experience and must be downloaded in advance on any testing device.
This new test day protocol may sound chaotic and confusing, but international sites have already administered multiple digital SATs successfully following these guidelines. Will U.S. schools be as successful?
WHAT’S THE SAME?
Not much. Some of the long-standing rules about national dates and test day rules remain, but even those aspects of the SAT experience will evolve in the next few years.
This SAT is a native digital, adaptive test–a departure from computer-based versions of a paper-and-pencil exam. Students will need to bring personal or school-provided devices preloaded with the Bluebook app to the test.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
A digital exam allows for design innovations that support shorter yet potentially more accurate assessments along with operational improvements that may, over time, make test day more manageable for test takers and test centers alike. Plus, many of today’s teens prefer working on computers or tablets over paper alternatives.