Online Standardized Testing: A student Perspective

Isabella Kohn

The College Board has announced upcoming changes in format, duration, and content of the SAT beginning late 2023 and early 2024. The most notable change is that the SAT will no longer be given in paper format, but online.


“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board.


The current SAT(as of 2016), consists of three hours and an additional 50 minutes for an optional essay. During the three hours, students are expected to complete four sections, the first two being English Reading and Comprehension sections and the last two being Mathematics based, one with a calculator and the other without.


The 2021 SAT Suite of Assessments Program Results reveals that 1.5 million students in the high school class of 2021 took the SAT at least once, which is less than the 2.2  million in the class of 2020 that took the test. Changes were reportedly made as an attempt to ease the decrease in the demand from colleges for applicants to submit scores, all as a result of the previous inability of a variety of students to take the SAT during the pandemic.


Along with the decision to change the test’s format, SAT subject tests and the optional essay have been discontinued after them being made available yet optional for the classes of 2020 and 2021.


The new SAT exam, apart from being online and more easily administered, will have shorter and easier-to-read passages. With only two hours of test time(one hour less than the current SAT), students are expected to have a less hard time answering the reading comprehension section.  Additionally, calculators will be allowed throughout the entirety of the exam and results will be sent out within days rather than weeks after the test. 


“The fact that it is online and that they get a calculator makes it way easier than what students have been dealing with so far. So, I think it’s good” said Cypress Ranch senior Audry Ramirez, who took the SAT once in 2021. “It’s way harder to do it on paper, you get more anxiety from it,” she said.


While some students are for the changes made to the SAT and claim that the SAT’s now easier structure could be beneficial for the class of 2024 and those classes after them, others reject the idea of standardized testing as a whole.


“I think standardized testing is a privilege,” said Cypress Ranch high school junior, Khanh Nguyen, as she explains how not everyone has the same access to the resources necessary to prepare for and take the SAT. “It’s not fair,” she said.


To address the inequity in student’s access to technology and to ensure students are able to take the test, the College Board will allow students to use their own technology and will be as well given access to school issued devices.


 “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform—we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible. With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs.”