Throw Out the Pencils! SAT Assessments Going Digital in 2023

Recently, the College Board announced changes to the way their suite of assessments will be administered.

Beginning in the Fall of 2023, students will complete the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT/NMSQT on the new digital testing platform. This will roll out before the SAT digital version so students can get familiar with the format prior to taking the SAT in the spring of their junior year. 

Beginning in the Spring of 2024 all SAT tests will be completed digitally. 

“This is a big change for the SAT,” said Counselor Mr. Jon Hickey. “I believe it will lead to a better testing experience for our students.”

Mr. Hickey noted some of the important changes our students will see with the new Digital SAT: 

  • The test can be taken on a laptop or tablet. If students don't have a device, the testing center will provide one on test day. 
  • The new test will take roughly two hours to complete, that's one hour less than the current pencil and paper test. 
  • Calculators will be allowed on ALL mathematics sections.
  • Students will receive their official test scores much sooner than in the past.  

Read the College Board announcement

Standardized College Testing FAQ's

Every year the DLS Counseling team receives a lot of questions regarding testing. Here are some of the common questions and answers. 

NOTE: This information is also on the DLS Counseling page. 
Q: Should my son take the SAT or the ACT & which is preferred by the colleges?
A: Short answer is it does not matter which test you choose to take. Most colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Neither the SAT or ACT is harder than the other. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we are seeing more and more schools becoming test-optional or test blind when it comes to admissions. The best way to decide if taking the SAT, ACT, or both tests is right for you is to take a timed full-length practice test of each type. Since the content and style of the SAT and ACT are very similar, factors like how you handle time pressure and what types of questions you find most challenging can help you determine which test is a better fit. It is becoming more and more common for students to take both the SAT & ACT before their senior year. 

Q: Do I really need to take the SAT or ACT? I hear that a lot of colleges are going test-optional, is it really that important?
A: It is true that more and more schools are going test-optional but a test score can still benefit you in the admissions process and when it comes to awarding merit-based scholarships. Some schools are going test-optional for the short term and some have permanently removed it as a criterion for admission. Whether you send the score or not, we still think it's a good idea to attempt it before the end of a student's 11th-grade year. We've heard from several schools that they are doing holistic reviews of student applications. They have said that while not submitting scores will not eliminate a student from consideration, they could potentially enhance their application with a submission of a strong ACT or SAT test. Especially for those highly selective test-optional schools. We know for a fact that some schools still use those scores to determine merit-based scholarship awards. 

Q: How do I know which schools are test-optional?
A: The best thing to do is visit the admissions websites of the colleges that your son is interested in. They all have a page with undergraduate admissions requirements and will give a detailed list of what you need prior to submitting that application Fall of senior year. 

Q: When should my son take the SAT or ACT? 
A: We recommend that students take at least 1 test prior to the end of their 11th-grade year. 

Q: Will my son take the SAT or ACT in school during their 11th-grade year?
A: No, we do not administer the SAT or ACT in school and we are not a national test site for the SAT or ACT. Students will have to register for these tests by visiting (SAT) or (ACT) and selecting a local test center in the Metro Detroit area. Don't worry, there are plenty. DLS does not participate in the State of Michigan in school testing that takes place during the spring of 11th-grade in the MI public schools. 

Q: What standardized tests does my son take in school at DLS?
A: Every October our students take the PSAT suite of assessments. 9th graders take the PSAT 8/9 and the 10th & 11th graders take the PSAT/NMSQT. These are the only standardized assessments administered during a normal school day with the exception of AP exams in May. 

Q: What is the PSAT/NMSQT and why is it important?
A: The PSAT is essentially a practice SAT. It follows the same format as the SAT and provides great feedback to students on how to improve for the SAT. NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 11th graders take this test to determine eligibility for scholarships and other recognition through the National Merit Scholarship program. It is important because it is a scholarship test and students can earn some significant awards if they perform well. 

Throw Out the Pencils! SAT Assessments Going Digital in 2023
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