#60 Say Goodbye to the Paper SAT Test Transcript



David Blobaum  00:00

So it’s really the end of an era. So for, you know, about 90 years, we’ve had a paper LSAT, and this is the last year 2023 of the paper essay T, starting in 2020. For the first test in March of 2024, it’s going to be a digital test. They’re saying you could use a computer or maybe even your own iPad or other device. But yes, it’s going to be a digital test. And it’s going to be adaptive as well, which is going to be very new and exciting. So every student’s going to have the same first section of verbal section. But then if you do really well on that verbal section, the next section is going to be a hard verbal section. If you don’t do as well, the next section is an easier verbal section. Then every student’s going to have the same third section, a math section, and same thing you do very well. You’re going to get the hard math next, not as well, you’ll get the easy math next. So it’s not like dramatically adaptive does adapt to the student a little bit, which allows them to cut the time of the test down from three hours to two hours.


Lisa Marker Robbins  01:05

Very soon, we will be saying rest in peace to the pencil to paper SAT test. Yep, it heard me correctly. And I’m sure you’re already wondering, what does this mean to your teens college bound journey? Well, my guest today is a nationally recognized LSAT and AC T expert. David Blobaum is a graduate in the University of Chicago and co founder of Summit prep with two tutoring locations in New Jersey. He also serves on the board of directors of the national test prep Association and helps highlight how academic standards can be helpful to students, schools and society. David is the perfect guest to share the timeline for the LSAT changes how your family should navigate this and what we can all expect. I’m Lisa Martha Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Welcome, David.


David Blobaum  02:12

Thanks for having me, Lisa.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:14

Oh, golly, am I excited to have you on. And I am an avid follower ICU writing, I see you getting interviewed on television, sharing fantastic insights for families. And this topic is upmost importance because it really affects our families that you’re serving that I’m serving greatly. So I’m excited to get in and figure out what’s going on with saying rest in peace to the SATs, first of all, just kind of fill our listeners in on what’s upcoming, like what will be different.


David Blobaum  02:50

Yeah, so it’s really the end of an era. So for you know, about 90 years, we’ve had a paper LSAT, and this is the last year 2023 of the paper SATs, starting in 2020. For the first test in March of 2024, it’s going to be a digital test. So all online, all online. Yeah. And so they’re saying you could use a computer or maybe even your own iPad or other device. But yes, it’s going to be a digital test. And it’s going to be adaptive as well, which is going to be very new and exciting. So every student’s going to have the same first section of verbal section. But then if you do really well on that verbal section, the next section is going to be a hard verbal section. If you don’t do as well, the next section is an easier verbal section, then every student’s going to have the same third section, a math section, and same thing you do very well, you’re gonna get the hard math next, not as well, you’ll get the easy math next. So it’s not like dramatically adaptive, it does adapt to the students a little bit, which allows them to cut the time of the test down from three hours to two hours. Because essentially that first section, they’ll say, Okay, well, this is a very strong student or not a strong student. Well, the strong students, you don’t want to give them the really easy question. They’ll just have to waste their time on. So it’s like, okay, just get those students to the questions that best suit their ability level. Same thing for a student who’s not as strong on the content, why have them waste time on the questions they won’t get right? Just put them into the next section where it’s, you know, more of their ability level to fine tune where their abilities lie.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:25

So that’s fantastic. First of all that adaptive piece. So let’s dig in a little bit deeper on this adaptive piece. If you and I are taking the test, we’re sitting side by side, our first question. Second question. Third question will all be the same through that first section, or do we not know yet,


David Blobaum  04:42

so there will be multiple different versions of those first sections, but it will be a static number of first sections. It’s not adapting to you the individual. There’s just a set number of first sections that they’ll just be rotating through for any given student.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:59

So related That kind of cuts down on cheating opportunities as well. It sounds like, Absolutely. That’s definitely a piece of this. Will everybody’s test be the full two hours? Or because it’s adaptive and some kids move on to a harder section? Could they possibly be testing for a shorter period of time?


David Blobaum  05:18

Everyone will be testing for the same amount of time. Part of that is because they’re even going to have some experimental questions on the adaptive tests as well. It’s actually going to be slightly more than two hours, but just about two hours,


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:30

yet we’re not getting get into the weeds have to get right. We don’t need to be that exact. So will there be anybody at all? Who could take a pencil to paper test on the LSAT starting in 2024?


David Blobaum  05:44

For students with accommodations? Yes, I mean, even right now, there’s a host of different accommodations that you can get, you can get audio accommodations, you can get to use your computer right now. So yes, there will be accommodations for those students who take a paper and pencil test with accommodations that will not be an adaptive test. So it’ll just be like your regular test, because they’re not going to grade how well you did on that first section, and then give you a different paper


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:08

and then drain it and then give you the next section. Exactly. Feel a little Sally. You know, we both work with families who their students might be on a 504 an IEP, they’re getting accommodations in the classroom, I want to make those families feel is going to be okay. So if your kid needs a paper to pencil test that would still be available. If you receive testing accommodations, will it still be a shorter test moving from a three hour test down to a two hour test? Now? Do we know that yet?


David Blobaum  06:36

It won’t be I mean, it’ll it’ll still be the new structure. But no, it’s it’s not going to be short, because, again, they can’t adapt it to that students. So that next section has to be longer, it has to include all the easy and all the hard questions on it, because they don’t know where a student’s ability levels lie.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:54

So those students will actually if you’re doing that paper Accommodated Testing, you are going to still probably be sitting for about a three hour test. That’s correct. Okay, so we’re airing this the week of the first essay T of the 2023. Year. And when will the last essay t be given?


David Blobaum  07:18

Yeah, so the runway is running out. So the last paper and pencil test will be in December. So for current sophomores, they really have to really plan strategically, because in their junior year in 2023, they’ll have the August, October, November and December test of the current paper and pencil test. And then it changes forever. The next test offered is March 2024. And the grammar content is largely staying the same, the math content is largely staying the same. But it’s really that reading piece that is very, very significantly changing. Right now you get reading passages that you have 10 or 11 questions on. But what they’re changing to is you’re going to get they’re all relatively short reading passages. And then you just have one single question on that. And they’re doing a lot of really cool things. I always think they’re cool. They’ll give you know, potential notes that a student might have taken and say, Okay, we’ll draw the main idea from these. So if a student is preparing for this current paper and pencil test, they have to be aware that they basically need to finish by December of their junior year. Otherwise, a lot of that work, it won’t translate necessarily to the new digital test. And then they also have to be aware, let’s say they say, Well, fine, I’m not going to worry about the paper and pencil test, I’m only going to prepare for the digital test will so then that’s given in March of their junior year. The next test dates are in May, in June of their junior year, May, that’s during AP exams, June, that’s during finals. So really, that March test is the prime test date. But most students are not one and done on these tests. So if they don’t finish on their first test of the digital LSAT, their strategy really becomes more complex of maybe may in June, or maybe they have to push it off until August October of their senior year. It’s unfortunate for current sophomores that the test is changing in the middle of their junior year. For a lot of students, it’s very likely the AECT will be the better test for them just because of that. And also the new digital test, there’s only four digital tests that you can practice from that are authentic. If you’re very far from your score goal, you’re probably not going to be able to bridge that gap just with the four official tests. We’ll see if third party test makers are able to come out with good content that mimics the test but yeah, we’ll have to see


Lisa Marker Robbins  09:46

could being the important word there right. So if I’ve got a junior, I don’t need to worry about this as a parent. You’re absolutely correct. If I have a freshman I don’t really have to worry that much they don’t have to navigate. I mean, what I’m hearing you say is if you have a freshman or younger, one of the concerns could be the quality and amount of practice materials that are out there for this digital adaptive LSAT, because SATs not giving us a lot. And for the reading that we really need access to that I mean, the math and the grammar is going to enlarge heartbeat the same. So you could practice with pencil to paper, but know that your testing experience is going to be different. But the questions are largely going to remain the same. But if I’m a freshman, or a mom of a junior, but I also am a freshman or an eighth grader, you know, I’m sitting here thinking like, okay, you know, my kids going to need a lot of prep and multiple tests, you know, the AC T may be the way to go. Because we just won’t have the materials.


David Blobaum  10:49

No, you’re absolutely correct. And I would like you to kind of to the GRE. So the GRE it’s an online test, there’s not a lot of official content for it. When you prep students for the GRE for instance, you really just prep them on the content, and then that testing experience, you’re not going to be able to simulate it very well, because there are no high quality third party tests for the GRE. They just don’t exist. What complicates things is there’s only one general exam for graduate school. You know, there’s the specialized GMAT, or LSAT, etc, but only one generalized exam. But you’re exactly right families need to choose between which generalized exam they want to use for college admissions, either the PSAT or the AC t. So those families doing LSAT prep, they’ll still be able to prep on the content, just like you mentioned. But yes, that mock testing experience, they very well will not have a lot of authentic practice, especially compared to the AC T, the AC t is not substantially changed in over 20 years. So you have literally 60 released a CTS that you could practice from, which is essentially an infinite number. For all practical purposes.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:58

Nobody needs the complete 60 test as you and I both know that absolutely sure. That a sophomore families, I mean, my heart goes out to them. And this is one of those times where I’m like, Oh, I’m so glad my kids are all adults. Now. I was saying the same thing during COVID. So those families really need to figure it out. And it sounds like your advice would be if you have a sophomore, if you’re going to choose the PSAT or the AC t do the pencil to paper, get it done by the end of 2023. To play it safe,


David Blobaum  12:32

correct? Yes. So most students probably won’t be able to finish it by December of 2023. Especially, there’s a lot of students who there may be in Algebra Two trigonometry in your junior year. So they’re not going to hit a lot of that content until the end of their junior year. So for them, they’re really at a disadvantage if they’re trying to finish by December. But there are certainly going to be cases where students are relatively close to their score goal. So yeah, why not? I would say where the LSAT is a better test for them. And they’re relatively close to their score goal. Yeah, just finished by December, or for recruited athletes, a lot of them need their scores before December. So then for them, it doesn’t matter their runway ends by December anyway. So they just need to pick the regular LSAT right now or the the unchanging AC T is better for them.


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:21

Can you talk for a second about the recruited athlete piece, you know, I’m engaging with families in my launch Career Clarity course, where I’m helping students identify that best college major based on the career fit and then building out their college list. So I’m navigating very different landscape with them. You’re navigating those test prep piece with them. And so I hear the chatter from the student athletes of the families that are in my community that I serve. But I’m not focused on that. So I’m not doing the deep dive there. I see families getting surprised by what you just said on the timing of what this looks like for student athletes. So can you give a little context for our listeners who do have a student athlete? Why did you just say what you said about sophomores by the end of this year, your runway is over.


David Blobaum  14:11

It’s going to be very sports specific and also gender specific because the different sports for men and women, they have different recruitment timelines. So for women’s field hockey, I believe the time that college coaches can start recruiting them is June right after their sophomore year. I mean, I have students who will get offers in June right after their sophomore year, but they’re really not going to get those offers unless they have an LSAT or AC t score. And that’s really, really early. So even though the NCAA has said test scores are no longer required, and even though the vast majority of schools are test optional, those coaches still typically need some test score from a student. It’s kind of interesting how recruited Athletes now play into the test optional admissions data, I have a lot of recruited athletes who they’ll get recruited by by coach at a given school, they’ll then have to submit what’s called their pre read application in for the admissions office just to get a preview of the student and just give, you know, a thumbs up or thumbs down? Well, it’s through that pre read process that they typically still need to show official LSAT or AC T scores. And as long as those scores are good enough, if they’re not stellar, then the school will say, Okay, it’s good enough for us to admit you. But don’t submit those scores when you actually do your regular application. So that student will be counted as a student who got in without submitting SATs and AC T scores. But really, on the back end, the school got to have its cake and eat it too. It got to see their score, and then not use their scores and its admissions statistics, because that student’s score was still decent, but below their average and bring their statistics down. So


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:57

it’s just part of that vetting process.


David Blobaum  16:00

Correct? Yeah. So I mean, for, for some students, if the athletic recruitment process starts so early, right at the end of sophomore year, I mean, they might have to start taking the test in April, May, June, to at least had a decent score by then you don’t necessarily need to have reached your score goal by then. But let’s say that you know that a coach wants a 32 from you. Well, if you have a 28, by June of your sophomore year, you’re probably fine. And the coach will just say, Hey, keep taking the task to the 32. But if you have a 22 By June, and the coach is telling you, you need to 32 You’re probably going to be off their list.


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:39

That’s important. So you know, with the sophomores, they can do that this year with these pencil the paper test. Now we’re really talking to freshmen, parents who have student athletes who may be considering playing in college and they want to be recruited. Now they’re going to have to navigate that early vetting process through that digital LSAT. And here we get back into okay, there’s the tricky navigation for some freshmen parents.


David Blobaum  17:10

You’re exactly right. And again, I do want to stress that’s the earliest athletic recruitment time, right?


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:16

We have a previous podcast on this. I had a guest on in June of and I don’t know what episode it was, but it was in June of 2022, who spoke to this athletic recruitment. So I will be sure to drop that link in the show notes. She did talk about testing a little bit on there, but hers was more about the timeline and figuring out if you want D one, D two D three, so it’s a different take. But I think our family so student athletes, we’ll find some helpful Meishan in that one as well. I feel like we would be remiss if we didn’t also bring up the PSAT because that is changing sooner than the LSAT and many school districts are giving that we both know that it’s the entrance exam for the National Merit Scholarship piece. So talk about what’s the PSAT going to look like when does that change? Fill us in on that?


David Blobaum  18:11

You’re absolutely correct. So already end of an era with a PSAT the paper PSAT is no more. So for all students in October when most students take their PSAT, that’s going to be the digital PSAT, which just means it’s the LSAT, but like slightly shorter. For most students, they should not be worrying about the PSAT, especially in 10th grade, there’s absolutely no reason to worry about the PSAT because even if you’ve got a perfect score on it, they don’t use 10th grade PSAT scores for national merit scholarships. They only use 11th grade scores. And even for 11th grade, the vast majority of students shouldn’t worry about it, because you could be commended. But that really doesn’t make any difference in your college admissions process. You could become semi finalist finalist barely mattering even at that point. So it’s still not something I would really worry about. And to become a semi finalist finalist, you need to be testing in the top 1% of your state’s scores, which is really important. Because I mean, I’m in New Jersey, New Jersey and Connecticut. They have usually the highest LSAT scores in the country. So New Jersey students, they have to score on the top 1% not of the nation, but of New Jersey, you basically need a perfect score.


Lisa Marker Robbins  19:26

Yeah, right here in Cincinnati. You know, we border on three states. And so that qualifying score, Ohio’s is always higher than Kentucky’s yet I can be in Kentucky and 20 minutes. And I actually like I always remind families, it’s the state in which you attend high school, I believe. Is that right? Or is it the state in which you resign? I actually don’t know the answer to that. Take us where you go, because we have students who will cross the river, the Ohio River to go to high school. Not for this purpose. But there you go. Go to a private school. And that’s what they want to do. So PSAT, you’re just saying calm down everybody. Not a big deal. One of the things that popped into my head though, while you were sharing that was, if you’ve got a sophomore there in Algebra Two as a junior, so we really don’t usually recommend that they’re prepping and testing until the second half of that junior year, they’re not math ready with all that algebra two, they get an extra really practice test on that digital adaptive experience in October if they opt to take the PSAT right. So that would add another digital adaptive experience to what that’s like to test.


David Blobaum  20:42

Yes, and also I should mention, for some students, it does make sense to prep for that PSAT. If you’re very, very close to the top 1% of your state. And especially there are some the National Merit Scholarship designed to $1,000. So it’s not like a huge game changer. But there are some employers who if your child becomes a National Merit finalist or recipient, then they’ll give your kids a full ride to school. So parents should check to see if their employer offers that it’s more in the finance industry. But then certainly it could make absolute sense to prep for the PSAT. But that’s a very niche circumstance.


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:18

I would say there’s a handful of colleges, probably fewer than a dozen who have really robust scholarships with this new in the past, I always say go out and verify this people because it changes all the time. University of Texas, Dallas, Alabama does. I think University of Oklahoma, they do have some really robust scholarships for those national merit finalists. But those schools are few and far between most schools are not going to give you a lot of money. It’s a feather in your cap, though, if you get it. It is okay any parting words of advice to our families as they navigate change with the digital LSAT?


David Blobaum  21:56

My parting advice is though the test is changing, it’s still measuring the same general four skill areas, which is mathematics, reading comprehension, writing skills, and then just data analysis like reading graphs and tables. These skills are all important not only for the PSAT and AC T but they’re important for high school for doing well in college and in life. So if a student has a low score, it usually is telling an important story that a student really is lacking in some fundamental areas. So even if you don’t care about the se t, or AC t score, you should care about a child’s education, and try and support those areas of weakness that the tests might show. All students can do better on these exams. And it’s testing valuable content that they can learn and do better in school and in life from.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:44

That’s great, and I’m just going to drop in. We had a podcast episode in January, that totally goes with what you just said, David, we had rose Babbington from AC T state partnerships, Senior Director of AC T state partnerships. And she talked about the fact that we now have statistically the lowest national average AC t score of the last 30 years. This is not about the test. This is about our academic outcomes for our students in Florida. So I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. Well, David, wealth of information, fantastic guidance for our family. Thank you for joining me on the podcast.


David Blobaum  23:25

Thank you so much.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:30

Well, there was certainly something for everyone in this episode, reassurance for current juniors in the class of 2024 advice for those families who have a student in the class of 2025 or younger, as well as specialized information for student athletes. You can see now why I had David on the podcast. He’s a wealth of information. My regular listeners know that I encourage college bound families to have a weekly conversation with their teen. Or maybe you even need to have a work session on your college bound items. For this week. The first thing I want you to do is if you’re wondering where ACTN SATs testing fit into the entire college bound journey, head to flourish coaching co.com forward slash timeline to get your copy of my college planning timeline. This will set your journey up to do the right things at the right time. I’ll also link to that resource in the show notes. Next, focused or conversation this week on testing and test prep. First, consider who you might want to use for your teens Test Prep. Any reputable person or organization will be able to help you figure out AC t versus sa t be old for more than new and when the right time is to test and prep if you’re unsure of who to use, David is on the board of directors for the National Test Prep Association and they have a member directory available on their website. I’ll link to it in the show notes. If you have a friend who you don’t want to get blindsided by the upcoming changes to the LSAT, please share this episode with them. Sharing following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and confident about your teens future.