Junior Joanna Klaczak preps for the SAT by studying in Prospect’s library, where she can concentrate on practice problems.
Junior Joanna Klaczak preps for the SAT by studying in Prospect’s library, where she can concentrate on practice problems.

Online SAT changes

It’s that time of year where the flowers start to bloom, animals begin to frolic, spring storms swell and students become engulfed in stressful testing. Upperclassmen often find themselves overtaken by SATs and ACTs and they stress over the tests with the notion that their future hangs in the balance. 

This spring has brought even bigger changes to this annually anticipated test where the College Board says the test will likely be taken by 1.9 million people nation-wide. The College Board made the announcement in January 2022 that their highly praised test would roll out digitally starting in 2023. 

Laura Bernstein knows these changes well, as she manages the testing at Prospect as its Assessment Supervisor. 

“Because it is a big milestone,  I think [students] want that score to get into the college that they want,” Bernstein said.

When it comes to the test material itself, nothing has really changed, says Bernstein. Most of the changes lie in the format of the actual test itself. Besides being digital, the test is about an hour shorter, the reading sections are in smaller passages and there’s a built in calculator. 

However, when looking at how the test progresses, there’s one massive change that never could have happened on paper. As students progress through the two math and reading sections, their answers are tallied in terms of being correct and incorrect. In the second section of the subjects, students may get harder questions if they scored high in the first section. 

Junior Peter Sabchev thinks that adding on this feature isn’t a bad thing. 

“If you just keep getting easy questions I don’t think your SAT source will improve”. 

However, he does think that someone getting questions that are too hard for them is unfair. 

This is a very common opinion as many people associate adaptive testing with state testing, which is something that most students don’t enjoy as it doesn’t benefit them directly. In August of 2023, however, the College Board released a statement stating reassuring students about that.

“Your score will be accurate, and you won’t get a lower score just because you saw a lower difficulty set of questions,” said the College Board in their statement. 

Despite this, Bernstein continued to point out that there still needs to be research done before more information can be confirmed. She does say though that the results so far are accurate, and they show that not much has truly changed. 

On the flip side, taking the test digital does have one main advantage. Students are far more used to taking a digital test as opposed to a paper one. Bernstein pointed out that many Prospect students have been growing up surrounded by technology. 

“Students now have access to iPads or Chromebooks all the way through grammar school, and that’s how you [students] have been taking tests,” Bernstein said.

Though having a digital background is comforting, none of this can really stop students from over stressing the night before. Bernstein says the best things you can do are eat a good breakfast, sleep well the night before, and trust that you know your stuff. 

“Don’t stress,” Bernstein said, “Just kind of get the hang of it as your first digital test… [as] you can always revisit and retake it.”

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