There is a lot of buzz about the digital SAT, but it won't impact US students before the class of 2025. Read below:

Class of 2024: The digital SAT won’t be here until March of your senior year, well after your testing process is complete. Prepare for years of complaining about how you were in the last HS class to take a 3+ hour SAT using pencil and paper. You can even say you had to walk uphill both ways to get to the test.

Class of 2025: You’re the most affected by the switch. In the fall of Junior year, you will be part of the first class to take the digital version of the PSAT. In the spring of 2024, you’ll have the opportunity to take the digital SAT. Importantly, if you perform well on the current version of the SAT, it will still be offered in the fall and winter of your junior year.

This means you’ll be able to pick and choose between the current SAT, the digital SAT, and the ACT. If the current SAT speaks to you, it might be worthwhile to push your testing plan earlier into the junior year so that you can take the paper version of the test. If you don’t perform as well as you hope to, there’s nothing stopping you from also taking the digital test in the spring of junior year or fall of senior year.

Class of 2026 and beyond: Read, study, and focus on your grades. You will surely be taking the digital SAT!


“In the spring, Hannah Wolff, a former college counselor at Langley High School, a top-ranked high school in the wealthy suburbs of Washington, D.C., heard from admissions counselors at several public universities that a few Langley seniors who were rejected might have been admitted if they had not submitted their SAT scores, which were in the 1350 range. While a 1350 would have been considered a good score in the past at those schools, now, when the only applicants submitting scores are mostly those well above the average, the expectations of admissions officers have risen with the scores — especially for applicants from wealthy academic powerhouses like Langley.”

As a result, there is no good advice—even from counselors and admissions deans. “Two years in, counselors have no idea: What is a good score? Do I submit a score or not? And if so, should all colleges on my list get my score?"

—As Jeff Makris, director of college counseling at Stuyvesant High School in New York, told me, "'the more we tell [students] what to do, the more we become scapegoats when they don’t get in.’”

I (Pamela) work with Stuyvesant students and understand why this is a Catch-22 for Makris. They generally apply to Ivies and Ivy overlaps. About the same number of his students are admitted to Ivy League colleges now as six years ago, though many more apply.

What might surprise students and parents from a few years ago, however, is the next set of colleges Makris mentioned: Northeastern, Case Western, and Boston University. In 2016, 298 students applied to Northeastern, and 91 were admitted; last year, applications jumped to 422, but only 49 were admitted. In 2017 and last year, 129 Stuy students applied to Case Western, but admits were almost cut in half to 36. In 2016, the BU acceptance rate for Stuy’s students was 43 percent; last year, it was 14 percent."

Who wins? Highly rated public universities like SUNY Binghamton. Only 50-75 Stuyvesant students typically enroll, but 124 enrolled for fall 2022.


As I build lists for my 2024 grads, I’ve been for waiting for the verdict on test score requirements, particularly from colleges that did three year pilot programs beginning in 2020. While most colleges are test optional and likely will remain that way, we don’t know for sure when the policy isn’t stated on their websites. It’s likely that colleges will not reveal policies until the new year. That throws yet another stressful “unknown” into list building.

I have a few students who do not plan to take a standardized test. Do they really have to worry about this? Well over 1000 colleges, including some of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the US, became test-optional long before the pandemic. There are reams of studies on whether test results are an accurate predictor of college success, and the belief of the education community at large is that they are not. So there are plenty of schools for students to apply to…it’s just that they may have their hearts set on schools which may end their test-optional policies.

Students who choose to test also face some difficult choices. Since nearly every college except for the Florida and Georgia publics, Georgetown, MIT, and the University of Tennessee became test-optional, submitted test scores have skewed higher. I feel badly advising students to not submit SAT scores in the 1400’s, but when I know that these scores are below a college’s 50% percentile, those scores will not help their odds of admission. We strategize, school by school, on where to submit, and where not.

I look forward to getting some answers. Which colleges will return to requiring test scores and which will remain test optional? When I find out, I’ll spread the word.


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