Submitted: The Two Sides Team March 29, 2013
Even in this digital age, college-bound teens say they would prefer taking the SAT the old-fashioned way with paper and pencil. Asked if they would like to take the standardized college entrance exam on a computer, just one in 10 students said yes, according to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep.
Asked if they would like to take the standardized college entrance exam on a computer, just one in 10 students said yes, according to a survey by Kaplan Test Prep.
Many parents didn’t see that one coming. In a companion survey, nearly two out of three parents thought their kids would rather take the SAT online.
Daniel Clayton,18, a senior at Uniondale (N.Y.) High School on Long Island, N.Y., says he completes multiple-choice school assignments on an online system for his school but that doesn’t mean he would welcome an online SAT.
“Taking tests on the computer to me is tedious. Dealing with a machine, anything can happen,” says Clayton, who did not take the Kaplan survey. “After awhile it starts to wear on you. It can also affect your ability to answer questions later on the exam.”
Kaplan Test Prep, which this month surveyed 302 parents of kids who took its SAT test-prep course and 396 students who took the Kaplan course and the SAT, asked for opinions on whether the SAT needs a shake-up. It also asked whether the format should change from paper and pencil to computer-based.
More than four out of five students (81%) said they would not want to take the SAT via computer, citing concerns such as technical difficulties, typing proficiency and wanting to work out math problems with paper and pencil. Nine percent weren’t sure. Among parents, 65% favored computers, in many cases noting that most kids are tech-savvy, and 15% were unsure.
Parents also were more likely than kids to say the SAT needs an overhaul.
David Coleman, the new president of the College Board, which owns the test, announced in February that it planned to revamp the SAT but has offered no specifics and no timetable since then.
More than a third (39%) of students and a little fewer than half (45%) of parents said the SAT should be changed; 26% of students and 37% of parents said they were unsure.
More than 1.6 million students in the class of 2012 took the SAT, one of two major admissions tests that have not gone digital the other is the LSAT, for law school. The SAT was last overhauled in 2005, when a writing section was added and analogies were eliminated. Based on past experience, Kaplan Test Prep Vice President Seppy Basili speculates that the graduating high school class of 2016 would be the earliest possible group of students to be affected by a new SAT.
Coleman last fall was critical of the test’s writing portion, the design of which he said doesn’t encourage fact-based analysis. “If writing is to be ready for the demands of career and college, it must be precise, it must be accurate, it must draw upon evidence,” he said.
Among students and parents who favored changes in the test, a theme emerged: Make it shorter.