The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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SOS: Save our SAT From Going Digital

Sophia Chamorro

When I was studying for the SAT, the first thing my tutor told me was to use a method called 5P’s. One of those 5P’s was having an “active pencil.” Using your pencil to underline, circle, or even follow along with words made answering questions and reading passages easier. Since then, I’ve always utilized this tip, and I have found that it has actually helped me a lot. Being able to develop that physical connection with the pencil and paper has allowed me to stay focused on the task at hand, as well as notice important parts of texts and questions . 

A key part of active pencil is, quite obviously, having a pencil. I never thought that something as simple as a pencil would be denied from students taking the SAT. Until now. 

Beginning this school year, the SAT transitioned to an online model. This new version of the test is drastically different from the paper version and will be administered on tablets. But changing the test from pen and paper to digital is a major concern. Many students, including myself, have a hard time comprehending written instructions and texts when presented on a digital screen. A professor of literacy at the University of Stavanger, Anne Mangen, conducted a study where she had students read a specific text, with half of the students reading from paper and the other half reading from PDFs. The students then took reading comprehension tests on what they read. The results showed that “students who read the texts on computers performed… worse than students who read on paper.” 

A large part of reading on paper is the textural and physical connection of tracking words with a finger or pencil and flipping through pages, an element of reading that is lost online. According to Scientific American, “the sensory experiences typically associated with reading matter to people more than one might assume. Text on a computer, an e-reader and on any touch-screen device is far more intangible than text on paper.”

The SAT focuses the majority of its policies on ensuring that everybody has the same environment and experiences while taking the test to ensure fairness. The SAT College Board website states, “we work to strike a balance between preventing anyone from gaining an unfair advantage and providing testing opportunities for the majority of students who follow the rules.” Completely transforming the SAT to a digital format is unfair to  both students who work better online and those who work better on paper. These personal preferences do not mean that one type of student is smarter than the other; they just mean that the new SAT only caters to one specific kind of learner. 

According to NPR, the new SAT “will shrink from three hours to two, [and] include shorter reading passages.” Some argue that because of this reduction, the test will be easier for students to take and proctors to distribute. However, regardless of the length of a passage or the amount of math problems they have to complete, no student should feel as though they are having a hard time with a problem not because of its difficulty but because of their discomfort with the test format. 

A digital model of the SAT may be a good idea, but it should be an option, not a requirement. The SAT tries so hard to stay as fair as possible, and for some, a digital SAT is unfair. To maintain fairness, students should be able to take the format of the test that best fits their needs, whether that means choosing the new digital SAT or, like me, continuing to use their active pencil. 

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About the Contributor
Jess Dosik
Jess Dosik, Editor-in-Chief
Jess Dosik is the current Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Polygon and she is currently a senior. She began her career on the Polygon in her freshman year as a staff writer, and then went on to become the News Editor during her Junior year. Her favorite articles to write have been large in-depth news stories on a range of topics, her favorite being her story on the history of Co-Education at Poly. She also enjoys writing profiles on people and learning m about other people's unique stories and experiences. Apart from the Polygon, Jess has written for an outside journalism publication. She is also a musician in the advanced concert band, a peer tutor, president of medical club, a blue key ambassador, and more! 

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