What is Centennial’s Reception to the Virtual SAT?

What is Centennial’s Reception to the Virtual SAT?

In June of 2021, the College Board decided that the optional essay portion of the SAT should be removed entirely. Many students rejoiced at this prospect, but, according to College Board officials and released research, the standardized test will be moved to the virtual world between March 2023-2024.

In the modern age of technology, College Board feels that switching this long-standing written exam to students’ computers might ease some of the pressure for those who feel immense stress taking paper tests. Not only that, but the test will be shortened from three hours to two hours, the no-calculator math section of the SAT is being removed altogether, and there will be fewer questions, all of which will be shorter and less wordy. Test results will even be returned in days rather than weeks! While the SAT seems much easier now, the 1600-point, weighted scoring system is staying in place, so each question will hold more weight, which can be seen as a negative.

The news about this SAT change is relatively new, but teachers and students around the nation are already reacting strongly to this news. As one may expect, the students’ reception to this news is mainly positive while the teachers’ is negative. As for Centennial, this news has not reached many people, so it is time to seek out Centennial’s scope on the issue.

Student Positions

I like it, but I’m wondering how they’re going to deal with the idea of cheating,” pondered Centennial freshman Abby Porter, immediately analyzing the problems with the digital SAT rather than the benefits. “The idea of the digital SAT seems almost too good to be true, so I’m curious what difficulties will come with it.”

While she was skeptical about having a digital SAT, she did acknowledge the benefits, claiming that the shortening of the scoring period was her favorite aspect since “the stress of waiting for your test results can cause more anxiety than when you took the test, just to be met with a good grade.” 

The Centennial freshmen seem not to care too much about the shift of the SAT to the virtual setting. Freshman Joe Kim defended, “I don’t think it matters that much. I feel like the SAT kinda has to go virtual considering everything that’s happening.” Despite all of the benefits, the core stress factor of the SAT in the student’s eyes is still intact, so Kim will “treat the digital SAT the same way as any other form of the SAT.”

On the contrary, Centennial sophomores, who will take the digital SAT as their final iteration of the test, seem to be much more excited. 

“I think people would focus more on a digital screen than on paper now that we’re so used to using computers,” proclaimed sophomore Yash Sana, seeming optimistic about the changes to the SAT. 

Sana feels that the SAT’s transition to the digiverse is great, and he highlighted the elimination of the no-calculator section as one of his favorite changes since “most of us don’t need calculators in general, so there’s no point in having a no-calculator section when we can just not use our calculators on the calculator section. This is a good change.”

He did have some mixed feelings on the English section though, expressing that “I feel like shortening the test doesn’t make much of a difference, but shortening the amount of questions makes the test more efficient and allows us to finish the problems more quickly.”

Like Sana, many Centennial sophomores seem attracted to the benefits of the changes before considering any downsides, even if there is a bit of uneasiness for the change to a test that has been the same for so long–the kind of uneasiness plaguing Centennial freshmen. Nonetheless, both of these student groups must take the test, like it or not–but what do the teachers think?

Teacher Positions

“I don’t like the choice, but it doesn’t surprise me,” claimed Centennial English teacher Corey O’Brien; “the SAT has forced students to fit into so many boxes already that fitting them into a digital one doesn’t surprise me.” O’Brien, speaking more to the English portion of the exam, believes that “the test, intrinsically, does not recognize people’s different learning styles or the different ways people display their comprehension of different concepts.” 

He stressed that a multiple-choice test does not really allow everyone a fair chance since some people are simply not good at taking these kinds of tests, and, after hearing all the efforts of the College Board to make the test easier, he wondered “if the test is meant to analyze your critical thinking, which students need for college, and the shorter questions won’t really do that anymore, then what’s the point?” He even went a step further in analyzing the situation by providing a question posed by Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem For Mohammed Zeid, Age 15: “Why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?”

In contrast, Centennial mathematics teacher Teri Stevens expressed a more positive outlook on the SAT going digital, stating, “three hours is a long time to sit and concentrate, and I think that shortening the test will take away some of the test exhaustion that may lead students to lose focus and not try as hard towards the end of testing.” 

She is not a fan of losing the no-calculator section as she believes “the entire test should be no-calculator,” but she is happy that “an online calculator will be provided so every student will have access to a calculator” just in case they do not have a functioning calculator at home.

She thinks “students will be very excited about losing the no-calculator section and an hour of testing,” considering the massive benefits that are making many students happy (or the sophomores at least). She acknowledges that scrapping the no-calculator section may lessen the effectiveness of the SAT to measure students’ actual knowledge, as Mr. O’Brien argued about the English portions, but she is glad for the minimized stress for students as a result of the eased conditions.

These initial reactions to the digital SAT have proved that there is no right or wrong opinion to have about any topic, especially ones that affect different people in many, MANY different ways. The benefits of the SAT’s transition to people’s computers are undeniable, but the downsides are just as credible. Even though this seems to be controversial now, the debate will probably be put to rest when students have taken the test many times and teachers and students have gotten used to it.


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