Enrollment in SAT prep courses increasing, despite most universities waiving the test amid the pandemic

SAT college exam going all-digital
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 7:25 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The SAT, one of the nation’s most-used college entrance exams, is going digital in 2024. Even though many schools are waiving the test or doing away with it altogether, tutors and schools are saying students still may need to take those exams to afford higher education.

According to Fair Test, 80% of the roughly 2,300 four-year universities across the country won’t be requiring the test for 2022 high school graduates.

Many of those universities, such as the University of Arizona, will no longer use test scores in 2022 to decide who receives grants or scholarships. They are currently implementing a study to see what’s the most beneficial to student success in 2023.

“As we look at the whole study, we’re looking at what that student success is like. We know that their grade point average from high school is a huge, maybe the very top indicator, of how they’ll perform in college as a whole,” said Kasey Urquidez, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “We’re using that as our base and we’re looking at what else needs to fill in to make sure students successfully graduate.”

Despite the decision, Lori Culberson, owner of STEM Excellence Tutoring, said her Tucson location has seen a more than 50% increase in enrollment over the past two years. She said students seem to be more interested in the exam because they are using scores to apply for grants and scholarships outside of universities.

“Students are still taking the SAT and the ACT and we’ve actually seen an uptick as well in students interested in SAT prep,” said Lori Culberson, owner of STEM Excellence Tutoring. “We’ve implemented new courses and more support as students prepare for those exams because college is so expensive these days that you’ve got to get a scholarship.”

The digital exam in 2024 will have some changes as well from prior written exams. The test will be two hours, an hour shorter than before. The reading passages and questions will be shorter. Students will be able to use a calculator for the entire math portion.

“I think it’s great news. I think it makes preparation a little bit more accessible to students and hopefully that makes college more accessible to some students because it’s a little bit easier to do better on something when you have access to learn how to do well on it,” Culberson said.

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