From paper to screen: The SAT’s modernization

Dylan Bago, Staff Writer

The new SAT format coming in 2024 will bring a lot of change, transitioning to a virtual format from the original paper version. Furthermore, the length of the test will be shortened, with less questions and shorter reading passages. Because of this, the time limit has decreased from three hours to two hours. 

While the shorter test may be a welcome addition to students preparing to take the SAT, a new question arises. How would students prepare for the virtual test? With many students used to taking the paper SAT for years on end, transitioning may be quite difficult for many.

SAT tutor and specialist Suzanne Butler addresses the potential positive effects of the new SAT format.

“With the online test I think it will be good, as it’s probably more user-friendly than paper and pencil,” Butler said. 

With the shorter duration, the SAT may seem to be easier with its change to the new format. However, with the virtual format, concerns may arise since students must answer questions consecutively, and are unable to skip questions, unlike in the paper format. Currently, no indication has been shown from the college board that this format will change.

Many of the reading passages on the SAT are shifting content, analyzing social studies, literature, and writing across the ages. Due to this, students will need to change their preparations they have been doing so far, and this may elicit opinions among the student population that differ from that of teachers and tutors, who may have to do a lot more research, with the shift in topics and content. Additionally, students can utilize the College Board’s SAT prep and Khan Academy which serve as useful tools to help students with standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT.

Senior Josiah-Virgil Turner speaks about his thoughts on the new format.

“The virtual transition honestly doesn’t change my opinion of the SAT, as it’s still a standardized test,” Turner said. “I don’t really like the SAT anyways, as I feel it’s not the best measure of estimating academic potential.”

From a senior’s perspective, the SAT change may not matter to them, as some may not need to prepare or take it anymore. Freshmen, on the other hand, may have stronger opinions on the change, since it will directly affect them when they take the SAT.

Fremd freshman Dev Sharma believes the new SAT style will be less taxing.

“I think it’s cool, with the SAT switching to virtual and everything,” Sharma  said. “I really like how it’s shorter now, making it less stressful and easier in a sense.”

The new format could indeed be easier with shorter hours and less restrictions, considering the math portion will no longer be split into two parts: calculator and non-calculator. Instead, students will be able to use their calculator for the entirety of the math section. Additionally, test-takers will not have to bring a No. 2 pencil, which many students may not have in their possession.

Butler mentions that the virtual SAT is not a bad thing and represents the times to come.

“The SAT is catching up with what is already happening, switching to a virtual format in order to modernize,” Butler said. “Students taking the SAT are used to doing everything online, so it’s probably very user-friendly.”