Major Changes To SAT Will Impact High School Class of 2025 And Beyond

Hot off the presses this morning is an announcement by the College Board that, beginning in 2024, the SAT will be offered digitally only and will be a shorter, adaptive exam. No more bubble sheets and No. 2 pencils. The test itself may be as short as two hours long. Students will still have to take the exam at a testing location but may do so on their own computers or ones issued by the school. Finally, and perhaps most confusingly, the test will be “adaptive,” meaning that the questions asked will vary based on student performance as they take the exam.

I’ve noted before my belief that the people at Compass Education Group are among the best at helping make sense of all things SAT and ACT – I encourage you to read their initial analysis here.

The College Board indicates that digital exams will be offered beginning in 2024 but that it will offer the PSAT/NMSQT – the PSAT that almost all juniors are required to take at the majority of public and private schools in the United States – in October of 2023 digitally as well. This will take place in the fall of the junior year for students in the class of 2025 (current high school freshmen). Interestingly, high achieving students in this class often take their first SATs in the fall of their junior year which would be on paper in 2023. The first digitally offered SAT is slated to be offered on the March 2024 test date (the March date is a HUGELY popular test date for high school juniors).

Curious about other options? At this time, the ACT is offered digitally through participating schools only and is taken in exactly the same format as offered on paper (non-adaptive).

A huge question for many will be how do you prepare for this new online SAT? Khan Academy currently offers free online tutoring options and I imagine their product will become even more popular. Tutoring services will certainly be scrambling initially, however.

A more subtle question – how will this new digital SAT be compared against the ACT? Will concordance tables need to be re-centered? Stay tuned.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I (yes, this is opinion!) do not believe that this will have any impact on the test-optional movement sweeping college admissions. Just last week, the University of Iowa system joined the growing number of colleges and universities in expanding its test-optional policies. Test-optional is here to stay, though changes to current policies at popular local university systems (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) have yet to be announced for the 2022-2023 application cycle. However, no piece of your high school record will ever be as important as your transcript (and it’s not really close). So freshmen, for now, keep your head down and continue to work hard in the classroom!