The College Board recently announced the SAT will shift from a paper-and-pencil test to a computer-based exam in 2024. In addition to moving to a digital format, the 2024 SAT will undergo several format changes, including a shorter exam length, adaptive test questions and easier reading passages.
The SAT changing its format is nothing new and happens almost every decade. The last significant redesign of the SAT was in 2016 when the exam went from its 2400-point format back to 1600 points. However, the 2024 SAT redesign may be its most significant change.
To gain a better understanding of what these changes could look like, Moon Prep spoke with Shaan Patel, MD, MBA, the founder and CEO of Prep Expert SAT & ACT Preparation and winner of a Shark Tank deal with billionaire Mark Cuban. Here are his insights why the College Board is making the dramatic shift in the format of the SAT.
Digital Tests Are Cheaper To Administer
At the end of the day, the College Board is a business, and businesses need to generate profit. Recently, the College Board has been generating significantly less revenue given that fewer students are taking the SAT compared to years past because of the shift to test-optional college admissions.
If businesses can’t increase revenue to generate profits, then the next step is to reduce expenses. It is no secret that administering digital exams is significantly cheaper than administering paper-and-pencil tests. There are many costs involved for paper-and-pencil tests, including shipping the test booklets and grading scantrons. Because digital standardized tests are much cheaper to administer than paper-and-pencil tests, the 2024 digital SAT will be much more profitable to the College Board.
The 2024 SAT Will Be Easier
The College Board will make the 2024 SAT more streamlined. They have already hinted at a few ways that it will be easier for students:
- The exam will be two hours long instead of three.
- The reading passages will be shorter and only have one question associated with each passage.
- The math section will allow calculators at all times unlike the current version of the SAT that includes a math section that does not allow calculators.
According to Patel, “The College Board purposely makes the SAT easier with every redesign because it wants more students to take the SAT.”
In 2013, when it was announced that more students took the ACT than the SAT for the first time ever, the College Board put out a press release in 2014 that it would be redesigning the SAT in 2016. At that time, the College Board made many format changes to the SAT to make it an easier exam, including making it a shorter exam, making the reading passages less difficult, and no longer penalizing students for incorrect answers. As a result, in 2017, the SAT regained the lead — more students took the SAT than the ACT.
Patel says it’s become a race to the bottom: who can make the test easier between the SAT and the ACT. More students will choose to take the easier exam. Therefore, you can expect the 2024 digital SAT to be the easiest version of the test to date.
More College And Career Preparedness
With every redesign of the SAT, the College Board has the opportunity to advertise how the new version of the test is different. Although the SAT is simply a standardized test that can be practiced and prepared for, the College Board does not want parents, teachers and schools to see it that way. “The College Board would like people to view the SAT as an accurate predictor of students’ college and career preparedness,” said Patel.
The College Board is under immense pressure to justify why students should still take the SAT now that test-optional colleges are here to stay. Therefore, the College Board will use the 2024 SAT redesign as an opportunity to tout how the new version of the test will accurately measure what students learn in high school and correctly predict how they will perform in college. The truth is, the SAT is just a standardized test that measures how much a student prepared for the test.