Tuesday, July 23, 2024

SAT testing enters ‘less stressful’ a new era

WINDOW ROCK – The SAT has allowed students to show colleges their potential in what they know, but since time has changed, the new digital SAT is a complete experience.

Announced by the College Board in 2021, the digital SAT, known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, provides a shorter test with more time per question and an overall testing experience for students who some have said is “less stressful.”

As of last month, the College Board completed the transition of the SAT Suite of Assessments to digital testing after the digital SAT launched internationally in March 2023, the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, known as PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 8/9 in fall 2023, and the PSAT 10 and SAT School Day, according to the College Board.

With the digital SAT Weekend launch in the U.S., more than 200,000 students took the digital SAT at 3,000 test centers in 173 countries.

The SAT remains a fundamental process in admissions to a student’s choice of colleges or universities. The SAT results show how students live and learn by demonstrating their strengths past their high school grades.

Digital SAT changes

The digital SAT is shorter than the approximately three-hour, paper and pencil test, taking just over two hours. There is a shorter reading and writing section with one question tied to each. Calculators, including the built-in graphing calculator, are allowed in the entire math section.

To name a few, the digital SAT Suite score reports would provide students in the U.S. with insights on careers that are growing in their state, according to the College Board.

The digital SAT is a unique version for every student to ensure that answers are shared and that testing results are fair.

What remains the same is the knowledge and skills students are learning in high school, the 1600-point scale, administrations in a school or a test center with a proctor present, not at home, and test takers are still linked with over $300 million in scholarships and the College Board National Recognition Program.

Easy to maneuver

“Naturally, my score was a little better when I took the written test,” said senior Lorenzo Diaz at McKinley Academy in Gallup. “However, I do think that the digital was much easier.”

Diaz initially took the digital SAT in his junior year because it was mandatory. After that, when he signed up to take another to boost his score, he took the written test.

Having to take both, he said he prefers the digital SAT, especially the math section, where a built-in calculator is available.

“It’s nice to have a timer on your computer because (then) you know exactly how much time you have left,” Diaz said.

The unknown amount of time remaining was stressful for those who took the paper and pencil test. During those times, the SAT proctor would announce the remaining time, giving students a bit of anxiety.

“It feels easier to answer the questions,” Diaz said. “Multiple choice, you can click A, B, C, or D whenever you have an answer rather than bubble it in the written test, which still takes more and more time.”

He said comparing the two, it’s similar in some ways, but digitally made it easy for him as it went smoother.

Convenient for some

“Last semester, I took the online PSAT,” said Filipina Pimentel, a junior at McKinley Academy in Gallup who studied for the SAT for a month before taking it. She is familiar with the digital SAT and is well-rounded in all subjects, but math has been the challenging factor.

Although she admits the digital SAT is convenient, she prefers the handwritten because it’s easier for her to format thoughts based on the questions.

“I like to structure my thought processes for both the reading and math sessions. That way, I don’t lose track or get confused,” Pimentel said.

One thing she advises is allowing more students time to prepare regarding testing dates so that they can review and study thoroughly.

“Some may argue we could start studying at the beginning of the school year, but many students are juggling many classes and sports, and studying for a test year-round would be exhausting on an already busy schedule,” Pimentel said.
Two Shiprock High School juniors suggest taking advantage of time and reviewing answers.

Chieftain junior Jodi Sanisya said handwritten testing is less accessible when reviewing answers because changing an answer would involve erasing and re-bubbling the final answer.
The digital SAT is multiple choice, and there is enough time to review.

Although the digital SAT is to produce less stress, Sanisya said any testing involves stress regardless.

“It’s a lot more accessible than it was to have the written testing,” Sanisya said, adding she was more confident taking the SAT.

To follow along, the same response Chieftain junior Cameron Wayne, who said going digital is much better because of the multiple-choice option and the readily available timer on the screen.

According to the College Board, nearly 1.3 million U.S. students had SAT scores that affirmed or exceeded their high school GPA.

Among those 1.3 million, roughly 440,000 were Black and Latino, more than 350,000 were first-generation college goers, and more than 250,000 were from small towns and rural communities, which these numbers represent nearly 80 percent of these populations, according to the College Board.


About The Author

Boderra Joe

Boderra Joe is a reporter and photographer at Navajo Times. She has written for Gallup Sun and Rio Grande Sun and has covered various beats. She received second place for Sports Writing for the 2018 New Mexico Better Newspaper Awards. She is from Baahazhł’ah, New Mexico.

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