What happens when the SAT goes digital?

The SAT is changing yet again. It’s going digital, and, allegedly as a consequence of going digital, the reading passages will be shortened, with only one question per passage.

“We still want students to have rich texts that they need to read, understand, analyze and answer questions about,” says Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of college readiness assessments at the College Board, “But these walls of texts were not going to work on a digital device.” 

Walls of texts don’t work on digital devices? Does the College Board imagine that students will take the SAT on their iPhones?

I’m guessing that the real reason for this change has more to do with today’s digitalized students than with the forthcoming digitalized test. The College Board, I’m guessing, suspects that the iPhone generation doesn’t have the stamina and attention skills needed to read, comprehend, and retain more than a few paragraphs at a time.

Thus, no more questions requiring kids to synthesize complex arguments, compare two different tracts of discourse, or track the development of characters.

These changes strike me as at least as concerning as the ones I wrote about in an old Out in Left Field post from 2013, What happens when vocabulary stays “relevant”, re-posted here.

3 thoughts on “What happens when the SAT goes digital?

  1. “walls of text” — well, that much is accurate! She’s probably referring to the various studies showing that people read less well on screen than on paper. Solution to that: stick with paper


    1. Yes! Esp. when you have to go back and say whether lines 6-10, 25-21, 34-39, or 55-68 best support a specific inference. I assume that questions like these are gone now.


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