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SAT exam’s major makeover: What are the changes, why were they made and what students should do

College Board, the entity that carries out the SAT exam, recently announced that the standardized test will be undergoing a major makeover from 2024 onwards. SAT will move from a pen-and-paper mode to digitised. The exam length will be shorter, the reading passages will be easier, and the test questions will be more adaptive.

SAT changes its pattern around once a decade and the last major pattern change was in 2016. That was when the test went from its 2400-point format to a 1600-point format. But the upcoming SAT makeover 2024 is its most significant change yet.

As per an official statement issued by College Board on January 25, SAT would be delivered digitally from 2023 onwards for international students, while for US students, the exam would go digital in 2024.

Why should you appear for the SAT exam?

SAT scores are accepted by more than 30 universities in India, almost every American university, and hundreds of other universities outside India.

It is not limited to any particular field of study and the SAT score can prove useful for you whether you are studying engineering, law, jounrmalis, liberal arts, or whatever course you want to pursue.

SAT scores are also used for academic scholarships. You may not need to attend expensive coaching classes for SAT as many free practice questions and tests are available at satpractice.org.

Indian students can also send unlimited scores for free to any India Global Alliance member universities in India. Another plus point is that there is no negative marking in SAT.

We got talking to Deepak Matrani, former trainer at BYJU’s, TIME and Career Launcher, and currently running his own edtech firm, about why the changes were made in SAT and what they would mean for students.

What are the SAT exam changes due to its makeover?

“Certain significant changes have been envisaged which are expected to make the test easier for students,” says Deepak Matrani.

Here are the major SAT changes:

  • SAT will be conducted in the digital format now
  • The duration will be cut down from 3 hours to 2 hours
  • It will include two sections–Reading and Writing, and Math. There will be a break in between.
  • The assessments will continue to be administered in a school or in a test center in the presence of a proctor.
  • Students will be allowed to use their own device like laptop or tablet or a device issued by school. In case a student doesn’t carry a device, College Board will provide one for use on the test day.

“Even while the overall length of the test will be shortened, the digital adaptation will give students more time per question,” says Matrani.

It is important to note that the SAT will still be scored on a 1600 scale, he adds.

“Students will be able to register for the first digital SAT at international test centers starting in fall 2022,” Matrani says.

The test will be conducted in the online mode for the first time at international test centers in March 2023, and at the US schools and test centers in the spring of 2024.

“Students will be able to practice with the new format starting this fall,” he adds.

Here is what the Math, and Reading and Writing sections in SAT will comprise:

  • For the digital SAT Suite, each test section — Reading and Writing, and Math — is divided into two parts called modules. Students answer a set of questions in the first module before moving on to the next.
  • The reading passages in the digital test are going to be shorter with a wider range of topics representing the works students read in college. Each passage will only have questions that are associated with it.
  • In the Math section, calculators will be allowed for the entire section the current practice which includes a math section in which students are not allowed to use calculators.

Why is SAT changing its exam pattern?

The College Board said that digital SAT had been piloted in November 2021 which 80% students found to be less stressful. Thus, the exam was now being termed as “easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant.”

“As the duration of the test gets shorter, the administration of the test will get easy as schools will have more options and flexibility in planning how and when to administer the exam,” explains Deepak Matrani.

“The digital format eliminates the need to package and ship test materials, thereby making the online administration of the exam more cost-effective. The digital mode is also expected to be more secure as it allows to give every student a unique test form,” he said.

Moreover, he said that the online mode of SAT would make sure that students and educators get the test scores in just a few days instead of waiting for weeks.

“This will allow them to take important college decisions faster,” says Matrani.

The official update also mentioned that digital SAT Suite score reports will connect students to information on two-year colleges, career options and workforce training programmes.

Advice on taking the SAT exam

“My advice to the students would be to keep in mind the core objective of the exam which is to measure the college-readiness of students through an objective evaluation of their learning from high school. The new digital SAT will be redesigned in conformity with the evolving needs.” says Matrani.

He added that a good SAT score shows skills of a student that goes beyond school grades and since SAT exam takers come from various parts of the world, a good SAT score can be a big strength during college applications

Read: SAT exam strategy and tips to ace Math section

Read: IND SAT 2020: Exam conducted for the first time by MHRD, 5000 candidates appeared

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