This graphic depicts the log-in screen of College Boards new digital testing platform Bluebook which is replacing all of College Boards traditional pencil-and-paper exams.
This graphic depicts the log-in screen of College Board’s new digital testing platform “Bluebook” which is replacing all of College Board’s traditional pencil-and-paper exams.
media by Dee Lee

Out With The Old, In With The New: Meet College Board’s “Bluebook”

The new format for College Board testing brings a mix of opinions from past, current and prospective test takers.

In the past, students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) spent lengths of time bubbling in personal and school information on a Scantron sheet before the exam portion even had begun. Covering everything from the 6-digit school code to a personal email address, this lengthy process left test-takers worn out– and with a lot of graphite smears on their paper & hands. 

Beginning this year, the College Board traded in pencils and papers for a new digital testing app, dubbed “Bluebook,” to administer their suite of exams. 

College Board’s new streamlined format allows for them to take full advantage of emerging technologies and leap ahead in an era of rapid progression. The platform introduces new features and scoring changes with components including reduced testing time, different scoring weights for the SAT, quicker scoring times and multi-stage adaptive question technology that shapes tests according to a student’s performance. 

Bringing a multitude of uncertainties with this huge change, students and staff have a lot to say about it.

In early fall of 2022, the organization began the pilot program for Bluebook to test the waters of this new technology by inviting beta testers to complete a test and rate it as they developed the app. Students were incentivized to participate with rewards such as gift cards to compensate for their time and feedback. 

Asmi Patil ‘26 participated in this testing process for the College Board in October of 2022. She completed one full-length sample test, and was compensated for her time with a $70 gift card to clothing store H&M.

Patil shared a recap of her beta testing experience:

Q: How did you end up beta testing for College Board?

A: I was on summer vacation when I got an email from College Board with the subject ‘Want to get paid for free PSAT practice?’ The word paid obviously caught my attention and I filled out the application right then and there to beta test the new online test.”

Q: What parts did you like or dislike about the new test?

A: I kind of disliked the break times, although if I was in an actual testing environment I think I would’ve appreciated them more.

Q: Do you feel better prepared for future tests as a result of this beta testing process?

A: Since the online test is the new permanent format for College Board testing, I think I definitely understand the program more after beta testing and walking through the process.

Q: How do you think this will change test-taking as a whole?

A: I think this is a big positive step towards college board testing because it makes the testing process more accessible, faster, and allows students to get their scores back quicker.

The annual PSAT/NMSQT kicked off the first official implementation of College Board’s Bluebook testing. On Oct. 14, invited sophomores with qualifying GPAs and all juniors participated in the PSAT/NMSQT. 

Last year, 22 Jags qualified for the National Merit Scholarship program by placing in the top 3% of the 1.5 million PSAT/NMSQT test takers nationwide. 

Despite this major shift, students who participated in the test this year had positive pointers to share about their testing experience.

The newly-released “Bluebook” from College Board features a plethora of new features not seen on the paper tests. Some features include adaptive questions, new web tools and calculators, shorter time, break times, and more. The time frame in which students receive their scores was also significantly reduced. This new SAT will be implemented starting in spring of 2024. (media by Dee Lee)

Q: What was your general impression of the digital PSAT/NMSQT?

“I thought [the digital PSAT/NMSQT] was really interesting. It was kind of different compared to the PSAT before but I liked it this year,” Kirsten Buhay ‘26 said.

Q: Were you able to notice or pick up on any of the new technology while taking the test?

“I think I noticed the questions getting more and more difficult as time went on. I think the second section of each portion was supposed to be harder than the first one. I was a little confused as to why it started off so easy in the beginning, but I think I understood by the time I finished [the test],” Maylin Chio ‘25 said.

Q: Do you feel better prepared for future tests as a result of this process?

“Taking the PSAT/NMSQT made me feel a lot better about [taking] the SAT in the spring because now I know what to expect, and my strengths and weaknesses,“ Brikelle Paxton ‘25 said.

This new technology took some time for students and teachers to adjust to, but this new digital tool seems to minimize possible testing burdens for the future. 

The testing format will continue to be implemented for all future College Board exams, including but not limited to the Advanced Placement exams*, the SAT**, the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT. Bluebook and Khan Academy are offering free resources and practice tests for the SAT. For more information on this new testing format and how to prepare, click here.

(*Only select AP programs will use Bluebook to administer the exam in the Spring of 2024.)

(**The SAT will use Bluebook to administer the exam starting in the Spring of 2024.)

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