Thoughts on the Online SAT

The New York Times headline said: “Put down your №2 pencils forever: The SAT will go completely digital by 2024 amid questions about whether college admissions tests are fair, or even necessary.”

We have known for decades that the SAT is biased against students of color and those with poverty backgrounds, partly because affluent students had ready access to test preparation services. The trend toward test-optional admissions has grown to over 1800 schools. The pandemic led to less reliance on SAT testing and the number of students taking the SAT declined from 2.2 million high schoolers who graduated in 2020 to 1.5 million in the class of 2021, according to the College Board.

In addition to its transition to a digital test, the College Board will reduce the testing time to two hours (from three), allow calculators on the math section, shorten reading passages, and reflect a wider range of topics.

What does this mean for mental health professionals? First, you can expect more parental anxiety because the “rules of the game” seem to be changing. Second, you have the opportunity to educate parents and clients about the inherent complexity of mental abilities and their assessment. Third, the roles of motivation, self-confidence, and test anxiety may well take a larger place in your conversations. Finally, the decision-making by young adults may well be more complicated as they confront more post-high school options.

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Karen H Nelson is an emerita professor of psychology at Austin College. Since retirement, she has worked with HACCAH Solutions (haccah.com).

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Karen Nelson

Karen Nelson

Karen H Nelson is an emerita professor of psychology at Austin College. Since retirement, she has worked with HACCAH Solutions (haccah.com).

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