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SAT To Switch To Digital Format, Provide Workforce Training Options

The move is bid to stay relevant as fewer college and universities require the test for admission

The SAT will move to a digital format in an effort to increase its relevancy in college admissions and post-high school planning.

The proctored, standardized test will move from its traditional paper format to a digital version next year for international takers and by 2024 for those in the United States.

While they will still be required to go to a monitored testing site or school, participants will be allowed to use their own tablets or laptops to take the test. The digital version will cut an hour off the test.

Currently, the reading, writing, and math assessment sections take about three hours to complete.

Once considered a necessity for college applications, the SAT and its alternative the ACT have been made optional by colleges and universities across the country.

More secondary educational institutions say a student’s academic achievements and activities throughout high school are more important than the results of either test.

Critics of the exam have argued that it favors wealthy and white applicants and is unfair to minority students.

Watchdog group the National Center for Fair & Open Testing found that students applying for fall 2022 admission will not be required to submit test scores from about 80% of bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. Of these institutions, 1,400 will maintain the policy for application through the fall of 2023.

Priscilla Rodriguez is the vice president of College Readiness Assessments at the New York City-based College Board, the company that administers the SAT and related PSAT. She said a digital SAT would “be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant.” 

“We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform,” Rodriguez said in a statement to AP News. “We’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible.”

The number of college applicants has declined in crescent years, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Common App, which hosts applications from 900 colleges and universities, the change is an “alarming trend.”

The organization’s data shows unique applicants decreased by four percent during 2021. The greatest decline (10 percent) was among first-generation and low-income students. 

A 2021 survey of high school students found that the “likelihood of attending a four-year school sank nearly 20 percent” from 71 percent in 2020 to 53 percent.

The survey found high school students are more focused on career training or post-college-employments.

“More than half said they can achieve professional success with three years or less of college, and just one-fourth believe a four-year degree is the only route to a good job,” per CNBC.

High schoolers also cite the price of tuition as a deterrent from attending college or university.

College Board reported that during the 2020-2021 school year, the average cost of a four-year private college was $50,770 and $22,180 for a four-year, in-state public college.

In a bid to pursue those who may be unsure of or not planning on attending college, the SAT plans to provide students with information regarding two-year colleges or workforce training options.

Currently, the SAT costs $55 with additional charges for rushed score reports, change date fees, and scores by phone.

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