Digital SAT: College admission test will be online and shorter by 2024
Fewer colleges are requiring the SAT test for admissions, but the College Board hopes a new digital format will appeal to students from 2024.
STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY
With money at stake, time is running out and everyone is cheating on the test.
That’s the premise of a new online game from an artist collective, which is designed to look familiar to anyone who took the SAT as their college entrance exam.
The MSCHF collective – the group behind Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes and other viral stunts – calls his exam the “MSAT”. And for $52, anyone can register for the virtual test on Saturday. The entry fee for the online game is three dollars less than what the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the SAT, charges.
The fees go to a prize pool, and the person with the highest score wins the pot, says MSCHF. Tiebreakers will be decided by time.
The test — with questions organizers say are inspired by the real SAT — is open-book, meaning “everyone will cheat and we won’t care,” the group says.
In its “manifesto” on the project’s homepage, the collective presents a cynical view of the status of higher education, including how college admissions tend to favor wealthy students.
The group says wealthy students get an advantage on standardized tests. MSCHF says that includes the ability to take standardized tests multiple times to earn a higher score – as well as more overt ways, such as family donations to prestigious schools aimed at ensuring wealthy students are admitted to a selective university. .
“College admissions are already a contest, but instead of making money, a significant portion of players are earning a mountain of debt,” MSCHF said of his project.
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The MSAT game is launched as the College Board attempts to reinvent the SAT. Fewer universities require students to submit a standardized test score in the admissions process.
On 80% of four-year universities will not require test scores for high school students in the Class of 2022, according to FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a nonprofit organization critical of standardized exams.
In January, the College Board announced that it would administer the test digitally in the United States by 2024 and reduce the length of the exam. This change did not satisfy critics, who say the digital transition did not make the test fairer. The College Board and other testing advocates say the exam helps connect underserved students to colleges or scholarships they would have otherwise missed.
In a statement to USA TODAY, the College Board said Monday that it “is not affiliated with the organization or the project.”
How does MSCHF’s ‘MSAT’ game work?
MSCHF says exam registration runs through Friday and testing begins at 12 p.m. EST Saturday. It only works on computers, not on mobile devices.
The game will last up to three hours and 40 minutes, according to MSCHF. That’s longer than the College Board’s new digital version of the SAT, which is about two hours.
The MSAT says results will be released the Sunday after the test. Participants will be ranked publicly, like in an arcade leaderboard.
The questions will be based on past SAT exams and practice exams, “but none of the questions we have in the exam have ever been presented in an SAT in the wording that we have,” said Sam Thompson, a member of MSCHF at USA TODAY.
The group states in its terms and conditions that the SAT is “a registered trademark owned by The College Board, which is not affiliated with or endorses this promotion.”
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The price is determined by the number of people who sign up for the mock exam. As of Monday morning, 213 people had registered, representing a prize pool of almost $11,000.
The group says the winner will be determined by whoever completes the exam with the highest score, with the score capped at 1600 points.
In the case of multiple 1600s, Thompson said the fastest finisher would receive the award. If several people finish at the same time, they will share the pot.
Who manages the ‘MSAT’?
MSCHF might be a household name to most people, but he’s made national headlines before, including working with rapper Lil Nas X’s to produce the infamous “Satan Shoes.”
The modified Nikes featured pentagrams, an inverted cross, and other satanic-themed imagery, but the shoe company sued the collective to stop distribution of the evil sneakers. The two sides settled after MSCHF agreed to buy back one of the original shoes.
The fake college valuation may be less controversial than the Satan shoes, but the approach to tweaking an established brand is similar. The MSAT website bears a similar font and color to the College Board exam branding. And like future versions of the SAT, the MSAT will be administered digitally.
Can you really cheat on the ‘MSAT’?
Yes. In fact, it’s almost encouraged.
No ID will be required and the competition structure encourages candidates to complete the exam faster than the time allowed. Participants can also take the test in the privacy of their own home, where they could presumably discuss the test with anyone they want.
The organizers even bill their test as an MMO – massively multiplayer online game. Competitors will do this digitally in real time, and there’s nothing stopping players from collaborating on answers.
And organizers say it’s only fair that everyone can take the test, since higher education has long favored wealthier students.
“Cheating is a legitimate testing strategy,” they write.