A number of select colleges and universities have recently revised their policies regarding admissions testing. “High school GPAs are often perceived to represent inconsistent levels of readiness for college across high schools, whereas test scores (e.g., ACT scores) are seen as comparable. ”In fact, the 10 highest-ranking National Universities and the five highest-ranking National Liberal Arts Collegeshave maintained their SAT/ACT requirements.”  ”As with the ACT, SAT scores have been historically low in recent years.” Therefore, let’s take a look at the current versions of these two assessments. 

The ACT will not alter its content. It maintains four multiple-choice sections— English, mathematics, reading, and science—with an optional writing section. However, starting February 2024, ACT will offer an online testing option at select locations nationwide.

 In contrast, the SAT  has undergone yet another iteration of its content. “For most of its history, the SAT has been out of 1600. Starting in the 1950’s, the SAT has offered a Verbal and Math section, with each section worth 800 points. Before that, students completed 7-9 sub-tests to receive their final score.Today, the test is once again scored out of 1600 and comprises two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.” Starting this year, it will be administered online only.” 

According to the College Board, the reason for the move to a digital version was a pilot project conducted in 2021 that indicated  “80% of students found it less stressful to take the test in a digital format than with paper and pencil,” although no proof exists that digital enhancements increase comprehension. The content changes include the following: 1)Calculators are now allowed throughout the entire Math section. 2)The average length of Math word problems has been reduced. 3) The Digital SAT combines reading and writing 4.) Shorter reading passages, each with just one follow-up question. 5) New types of questions, with new prompts that require new strategies.

So in addition to the new delivery system being “less stressful,” is the content intended to be simpler? A cynic might think that the College Board was attempting to boost its market strategy.  

Laura Maniglia