The Scholastic Aptitude Test, known as the SAT, can be a defining factor in a student’s college application process. Though most colleges and universities have turned to a temporary or permanent test-optional system, there are still many top schools that require an SAT or ACT score. In the SAT’s present iteration, prospective college students show up bright and early to a designated testing site and sit for hours completing the paper-and-pencil assessment that is meant to project a student’s ability for success in a college-level course.

Because a competitive SAT score is no longer crucial to one’s success in the college process, and registration fees can be a burden on families, the College Board is making changes to make the test to still encourage students to participate. Starting now from the Fall of 2023, international SAT and PSAT-related assessments have turned to a digital process. By the Spring of 2024, all SAT and PSAT-related assessments will only be available digitally.

Anna Hutter ’25, who has taken both the pencil-and-paper SAT and the digital PSAT commented, “The digital PSAT, especially the reading section, was a lot easier in my opinion because there were no long passages that you had to comprehend…If I didn't understand one passage I could just move on instead of getting stuck with ten questions that I didn’t understand.” In the new SAT, each question has a corresponding passage. Thus, out of the questions in the combined reading and writing section, you are asked fifty-four questions regarding fifty-four passages on fifty-four different topics. Additionally, the digital platform used for testing now allows for digital highlighting and note taking, as well as a countdown clock on the screen for each section.

One of the biggest changes is that the test is now adaptive. For students who did better in previous sections, they would receive comparatively difficult following sections. Students who struggled with previous sections would receive easier following sections. This change is meant to be more accommodating to students, assessing them at a difficulty that is fair to their level of comprehension.

The roll-out procedure is meant to fully adjust the high school class of 2025 and beyond to this new testing process. In Anna’s assessment, “They haven’t released the scores so I can’t compare the results, but to me, they felt like very different tests.” This structural change to a fundamental aspect of the college process seems sudden and drastic, however, the nature of the adjustments underlines a greater consideration for students’ different learning styles and a focus on assessing them in more equitable ways.