Admissions experts welcomed the College Board’s move to move the SAT to a virtual format, but described the change as an effort to stay relevant amid an increase in admissions policies to elective tests.
The College Board announced last month that it would administer the SAT exclusively in a virtual format starting in 2024, following a pilot program last year. The move comes after only 1.5 million members of the 2021 class took the SAT, a drop from the 2.2 million who took the test the year before.
Harvard announced in December that it would implement an optional testing policy across the Class of 2030 in light of Covid-19.
“‘In a largely optional world for testing, the SAT is a lower stakes test for college admission,” Priscilla C. Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at the College said in a press release. Board. “Submitting a score is optional for any type of college and we want the SAT to be the best possible option for students.”
Some admissions counselors have said the decision is an effort by the College Board to maintain relevance as more colleges make standardized tests optional.
“The million dollar question – or the $ 2.2 million question – is, can the SAT go back to relevance?” said Daniel L. Valenti ’09, chief executive officer of the admissions consulting firm InGenius Prep.
“Their goal is to have as many clients as possible – as many students as possible – to take the test and also to keep the test as accurate, relevant or predictive as possible,” added Velanti.
Katie Burns, a consultant at admissions consultancy IvyWise, said the move was made in an effort to keep pace with an “increasingly digital” world.
Admissions Advisor Steven R. Goodman said the College Board was motivated by its own interests.
“The College Board, surprise, surprise, does what’s good for the College Board,” Goodman said. “They will continue to produce tests that they perceive as something they can distribute.”
However, some admissions counselors have praised the move as being beneficial to students.
Goodman said he welcomes any simplification in a process that disadvantages students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
“The admission process is inherently skewed to those students, simply because the admission process is so complex,” he said. “Anything that simplifies the process makes it easier for more students to apply and therefore reduces the barriers.”
Burns said he hopes switching to a virtual SAT will alleviate some of the stress in the admissions process that may be “most of the anxiety that most 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds experience in life.”
Some experts have also praised the SAT’s adoption of an adaptive testing model in which the difficulty of the test changes depending on the student’s performance in the previous sections. Standardized tests such as GMAT and GRE have been using adaptive tests for years.
Valenti called the new adaptive test approach “a positive change”.
“Using technology to pinpoint someone’s strengths and weaknesses is generally helpful,” he said. “It can also be more targeted that way.”
But Jay Rosner, executive director of the Princeton Review Foundation, said any changes would be minimal.
“The test will produce results similar to the results that are always produced by tests, especially the SAT,” he said. “The same disparities along the same lines”.
Consultants were conflicted about the effect virtual change would have on admissions as a whole.
Burns said standardized testing, in some ways, is here to stay.
“I don’t know that most admissions offices will ever be able to avoid standardized tests being an option in the way they evaluate candidates,” he said.
Rosner said the successful transition of colleges to optional testing policies during the pandemic, however, represents bad news for the College Board.
“This is the nightmare of the College Board and ACT,” Rosner said. “It is one thing to think about the optional test in theory. Another thing is to experience it. “
– Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at [email protected]
—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be contacted at [email protected]