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The SAT goes fully digital in bid to stay relevant and accommodate modern sensitivities by making it less stressful

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Gone are the days of scrambling to find a No. 2 pencil with a decent eraser as the College Board moves to implement completely digital standardized testing. The education system of yore continues to become a distant memory.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that by 2024 the scholastic aptitude test — commonly referred to as the SAT — will be solely a digital examination. Students will be expected to complete the SAT on either a laptop or tablet device in a proctored testing center.

The test’s new digital format will be two hours instead of three, shorten reading passages, and allow students to use calculators throughout the entirety of the math section.

The College Board reports that 80% of students who took the digital test in 2021 found it to be less stressful.

One sixteen-year-old student said, “I definitely preferred that format with the shorter passages, just because it was a lot easier to read and easier to stay focused.”

The College Board is working to make the SAT more relevant as fewer American universities weigh standardized test scores when considering a student’s acceptance. The University of California system announced in 2021 that it would stop considering SAT and ACT scores when determining a student's acceptance since they are “racist metrics.”

In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple prestigious American universities announced that they would not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores due to the “extraordinary circumstance” facing them.

However, in recent years, standardized tests have received intense criticism from people who characterize them as unfair to poor and minority students who may not have access to expensive test preparation materials.

Ibram X. Kendi, author of "How to Be an Anti-Racist" and "Stamped from the Beginning," said in October 2020 that “standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black and Brown minds and legally exclude their bodies from prestigious schools.”

In response to charges such as Kendi’s, the American university system has not only been disregarding standardized test scores of prospective students but has begun to actively discriminate against demographics of students who routinely perform well on them.

In 2020, Asian students scored in the 78th percentile of the ACT but faced discrimination when applying for admittance to Ivy League universities. A two-year investigation into Yale University found that race — not aptitude — is the “determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” This practice of racially selective admission violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In response to this illegal discrimination, the United States Department of Justice sued Yale and Harvard University. The Harvard discrimination suit revealed that Asian applicants had to reach higher standardized test scores than students from other racial groups.

By the summer of 2021, more than 1,500 four-year colleges announced that they would not require standardized test scores for entry.

Despite its bid to remain relevant and accommodate modern sensitivities, it appears that the SAT has an uphill battle.

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