The SAT, a standardized test widely used for university admissions in the US, will be delivered digitally at international schools from 2023 and in the US from 2024. Students are tested on reading, writing and maths in the SAT, which can be sat at several different times of the year.
Online SAT tests will be taken in school or test centres. The digital SAT will be shorter—about two hours instead of three; it will feature shorter reading passages with one question tied to each; and passages will reflect a wider range of topics. Students will be allowed calculators for the maths section of the exam. SAT scores will be announced within days, rather than weeks, of students sitting their tests.
After the College Board piloted online SATs in the US in 2021, 80% of students responded that they found it to be less stressful and 100% of educators reported having a positive experience.
Priscilla Rodriguez, Vice President of College Readiness Assessments at College Board said:
"The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant.
"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.”
There's an expectation that Advanced Placement (AP) exams, also run by the College Board, may also move online – and it has been done before. In 2020 and 2021, AP tests were offered in 45-minute online exams while schools were closed due to Covid-19.
The move has been welcomed by many American schools worldwide. Kathy Abel, Director of Learning Innovation at American International School (AIS) in Hong Kong explains why:
"With the SAT going digital for international students in the Spring of 2023, we're hoping it'll be a positive move! The College Board is promising a more positive experience for students, including a shorter exam, quicker turnaround times for scores, and more connections to alternative paths post high school.
"Schools will also have more flexibility with test dates and the number of test administrations we can offer during the school year. For me personally, I'm pleased that digital testing will be a much greener option--less paper waste and a reduced carbon footprint since there will no longer be a need to ship hundreds of thousands of exams around the world! We're hopeful this will be a good change, and that maybe AP Exams will follow suit in the future."
The College Board may be the the first to make the move to online, but other international exam boards are also preparing for a possible change to digital assessment. In the UK, more than 2,000 students will trial online GCSEs this spring, as part of a pilot run by the UK's largest exam board, AQA.
The director-general of the International Baccalaureate (IB), Olli-Pekka Heinonen, has said that the organisation is looking at how it could bring digital assessment to its Diploma Programme. Speaking to TES in January, Mr Heinonen said that "Digital assessment can open doors to a model that supports learning better than the traditional model…We are trying to create the conditions for us to move to that."
The IB already offers optional eAssessment as part of the Middle Years Programme (MYP), where students are externally assessed through online exams in maths, language and literature, sciences and individuals and societies – something it has done since 2016.