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The College Board goes digital

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Eleanor Gil Nov. 9, 2023

The Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT), also referred to as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), has gone digital this October, and the SAT will follow suit next year. The College Board, the administrator of the SAT, made digital versions of the PSAT/NMSQT available before the digital SAT so that students may familiarize themselves with an online testing experience.

Sophomores take the PSAT to gauge their readiness for the SAT and other standardized exams. Many juniors also opt in to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition for a scholarship aid award.

The Princeton Review reports that the College Board created digital versions of the PSAT and SAT due to security breaches of the exam and the ease of digital exams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now taken on the College Board’s custom-built application called Bluebook, the PSAT requires a stable network and appropriate testing device.

Yunseo Kim art

“We ensured all students had access to a Chromebook by borrowing 90 additional devices from the district office. We have had some challenges with our Wi-Fi in the past couple of months, so we spread out testing over several days to prevent any interruptions,” Assistant Principal of Student Services Sibel Ilsever said.

There are numerous changes to the digital PSAT’s structure. It is now adaptive by section and will not be the same for all test-takers—a student’s performance on the first section will determine their next set of questions. Not only is the online version one hour shorter, students’ answers are also weighted; scoring will depend on each question’s difficulty level, yet the highest score is still a 1520. The reading passages are shorter than they were on paper and a built in graphing calculator is available for the entire math section. Due to the digitalization, scores will also be reported faster.

“Though the paper PSAT was more difficult for me, I still prefer the paper format as it resembles a more formal testing feeling, and I am more familiar with paper testing strategies,” Junior Jin Yu Lee said.

The College Board’s transition to digital testing for the PSAT is setting precedents for similar standardized tests, with plans to offer some of its 2024 AP Exams online. As students prepare to take AP Exams, the ACT and the SAT next year, the PSAT going digital offers a prelude into the future of these standardized tests.


About the contributors

Eleanor Gil

staff writer

Eleanor Gil is currently a sophomore at Leland High and an enthusiastic writer for The Charger Account. She spends her free time cultivating her deep passions for environmental sustainability and renewable energy, neuroscience and psychology, the law, tennis, and viola.

Yunseo Kim


Yunseo Kim is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an Artist for The Charger Account. In her free time, she loves to snuggle with her cat and eat snacks.

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