A rite of passage for many high school students is undergoing a major change with the news that the SAT will soon be going digital and getting shorter.
The announcement comes as more colleges and universities, including those in North Carolina, continue to reassess whether to require prospective students to submit standardized test scores as part of the process. admission. It will also impact how schools, tutors and test prep companies work with students to prepare for the exam.
Here’s what to know about the changes to the SAT and how these changes will affect students, families, and schools.
• What changes at the SAT?
The revamped SAT will be different in several ways.
The test will soon be taken on a computer or tablet, rather than pencil and paper, the College Board has announced. In US schools, the transition will take place in the spring of 2024 and the PSAT will go virtual in the fall of 2023.
Digital tests will still be proctor-administered at schools or testing centers rather than at home, according to the College Board. Students will be allowed to use their own laptop or tablet or a “school-provided device” to take the test.
“If students do not have a device to use, the College Board will provide one to use on test day,” the group said in a statement. “If a student loses connectivity or power, the Digital SAT was designed to ensure they won’t lose their work or time while they reconnect.”
In addition to going digital, the test will also go from three hours to “about two hours”. The new test will have “shorter reading passages with a question linked to each”.
Students will also be allowed to use calculators “throughout the math section”.
And going digital will allow students and schools to get their grades back faster, according to the College Board.
• What will the SAT changes mean for students and families?
Changes to the test will lead to changes in test preparation for high school students and their families, according to tutoring companies.
Princeton Review editor Rob Franek said in a statement that the changes mean his company, which provides test preparation books and courses, will have to adapt its lessons and materials to the new model.
Dennis Yim, who is director of studies for tutoring and test preparation company Kaplan, said he hopes the changes to the test will help reduce student anxiety.
“Historically, what’s been the hardest part about the SAT has been its length,” he said, “so we think these changes will make the testing experience less daunting, and it will likely make students more willing to take this.”
Yim, who described the changes as “among the most significant in the nearly 100-year history” of the SAT, said organizations like his will need to evaluate their own test preparation materials in light of the changes.
They will, he added, have time because the new tests will not be rolled out in the United States for a few years. And there are things students who will be among the first to take the new tests can do now to prepare.
“The first thing I like to say to students is to take a free practice test… It’s just to make sure you’re aware of the challenges ahead. This will give you a base score,” Yim said.
Still, he added, early high schoolers with their eyes on college and time to spare before taking the SAT should focus on their GPA, extracurricular activities, and building relationships with their peers. teachers.
“Start thinking about how you’re going to tell your story authentically” in your college applications, Yim said.
• Which colleges and universities in North Carolina require SAT scores?
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and growing talk of the value of standardized testing, more colleges and universities across the country have moved to “optional testing,” meaning that they do not actually require applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of the admissions process.
The 16 schools in the University of North Carolina system – including UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State – do not require SAT or ACT scores” for students applying for admission in Spring 2022, Summer 2022 and Fall 2022″ due to COVID-19. Prospective students may choose to still submit test scores.
Duke University is not requiring SAT or ACT scores for students “in the 2021-22 admissions cycle” amid the ongoing pandemic, but applicants can still submit scores if they wish.
Wake Forest has not required prospective students to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of the admissions process since 2008. Applicants can still choose to share their scores.
Davidson College announced in March 2020 that the school would be optional for three years as a “pilot program”. At the end of the three years, the school will decide whether to remain test-optional or require SAT or ACT scores again. In the meantime, candidates can decide on their own whether to submit their scores.
Elon University is optional for most applicants. Prospective students who are home-schooled, attend a high school that does not give letter grades, or are applying for the school’s “Nursing, Accelerated Pathways to PA and DPT and the Accelerated 3+1 Business Dual-Degree” programs must submit SAT or ACT scores.
Queens University of Charlotte does not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, but they may do so if they wish.
Johnson C. Smith University is temporarily waiving the requirement that students submit SAT or ACT scores due to the COVID-19 pandemic” for first-year undergraduate applicants who meet other eligibility requirements. ‘admission”.
• Should you still take the SAT if your best choices are optional?
Even if the college or university you are applying to does not require an SAT or ACT score, submitting one can still help your application.
“Last year, we conducted a survey at Kaplan of admissions officers at test-optional schools, and 60% of them said the test can still give you an advantage,” Yim said.
High school students should consider what the rest of their application looks like and their abilities to take the test before deciding, he advises, and remember that taking the test does not require you to submit that score. to schools.
“You have to know your options. It’s all about options,” he said. “You want to use a strategy that will give you the best chance of getting into your top college choices.”
This story compiled by Tribune News Service.