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SAT College Exam Moves to Computer-Based Test

The company that produces the SAT said Tuesday the test will move to a computer version in future years.
The company that produces the SAT said Tuesday the test will move to a computer version in future years.
SAT College Exam Moves to Computer-Based Test
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The maker of a test some colleges use to decide who to accept, the SAT, said it will stop offering students paper tests by 2024.

The SAT is a standardized test. That means it is the same for everyone who takes it on the same date.

The College Board in New York City creates the SAT and PSAT tests. Most American students take these tests before applying to college. The organization said it will no longer provide paper tests for international students in 2023 and, a year later, for American students.

The test also will be one hour shorter and given to students on a computer, the organization said. However, students will still need to take the test at a school or testing center.

Priscilla Rodriguez is the vice president for college readiness at the College Board. She said the test will be “easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant.”

A student in Indonesia takes a computer-based college admissions test.
A student in Indonesia takes a computer-based college admissions test.

The SAT tests a student’s knowledge of math, reading and writing. It takes at least three hours to complete.

A number of colleges and universities made the SAT and the competing ACT optional when testing centers closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means many students are permitted, but are not required, to send their test scores as part of their college applications. A smaller number of schools, such as those in the University of California system, decided to stop using the tests completely.

Some experts wondered if the move to make testing less important would hurt the testing companies. Rodriguez said the College Board is working to make the test better for a computer, and not just moving the paper test to a digital form.

“We’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible,” she said. Assessment is another word for test.

Even with the change in test requirements, 1.5 million students still took the SAT in 2021. That number, however, is down from 2.2 million in 2020.

One organization that opposes standardized tests is FairTest. It follows how many universities do not require test scores for students currently applying to college. It said about 80 percent of colleges and universities are now not requiring standardized tests.

Some students still take the tests even if they do not send in their scores. That is because organizations that give out financial aid, known as scholarships, sometimes choose students based on test scores. A public opinion study by the College Board showed that students want the SAT to continue so they can put their scores on their college applications.

Rodriguez said her organization will use the test scores to help students connect with job training schools and community colleges and not just four-year colleges. She said the College Board wants to give students more information about what they can do after high school.

In addition, moving to a computer-based test will make scores available sooner. There have been past stories about paper tests getting lost.

One student from Virginia recently took a practice version of the new test.

Natalia Cossio, a 16-year-old, said the new version was “less stressful” than the paper test. She said the computer test also includes a calculator which students can use for math problems, which is how many of them do higher-level math in school.

The College Board said students who do not own a computer, or schools which do not have enough computers, will be given computers to use on test day.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.

Do you think you will be more interested in taking the SAT now that it can be done a computer? Write to us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

apply v. to formally ask for something such as a job, admission to a school or a loan

relevant adj. related to a subject in the correct way

take advantage of – phrasal verb - to put something fully to use for its best purpose; to use something so that it helps you

practice adj. something that is a used for preparation but not official or final

stress n. a feeling of worry or concern

calculator n. a device that can add, subtract and do mathematical operations