AI questions arise after the SATs digital shift

Digital launch of the SATs begin March 2024, resulting in updated methods of pre-college testing.  Photo by: Matthew Rivenburgh

Oswego, N.Y. —  The College Board’s decision to shift the SAT exam to an online format this spring raises questions about how AI will affect the exam.

SUNY Oswego’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Cory Bezek said that the new SAT exam has been piloted with school administration and site administration with the use of Bluebook. An exclusive app that does not allow students to open up anything on the computer or device so they are not able to have other browsers or windows, and the exam has an embedded calculator in the app.

Bezek said cheating will not be an issue on the SAT exam.

“So they aren’t able to go to Chat GPT or any of these other AI sites during the administration. There will also be test proctors and IT proctors as part of the administration, so they are the ones that will be walking around and monitoring,” said Bezek.

Bezek said there are several programs being used to detect the use of AI.

“One of the ones that is most commonly used is you can use grammarly that’s a popular writing tool that’s free and available to everybody with their simple paid subscription. You’re able to check content to see if part of it is generated by AI,” said Bezek. 

Bezek said that the use of AI detection programs is not worth looking into right now in the admissions process.

“Right now doing globally because the one thing you find is with AI generated content or anything generated with AI standard prompts are going to give you the standard response over and over again,” said Bezek.

Bezek said that his department has not seen enough of an issue with college letters for there to be a need to be reviewed by AI detection programs.

“I imagine down the road it could be something, unfortunately what it will do is it will mean that we value that essay that personal narrative less, which is hard because it is something that is very important to me. I like a student to come and be able to tell their unique story, and you find a lot of good students who on paper they may be one thing, but you get an idea of what they overcome their struggle their adversity,” said Bezek. 

Bezek said that the SAT test going digital is for safety and security as well as student anxiety.

“Students today aren’t used to sitting down and filling out a scantron pen and paper all of that. That’s not how our students are learning anymore… so the idea of sitting down and doing long hand calculations with a four function calculator, pencil scantrons, it creates a lot of test anxiety for a lot of individuals so this is the ability for them to move into a more digital native format,” said Bezek.

SUNY Oswego student Abbey Schaumberg said that when she took the SAT it was on paper and there were COVID precautions. She said that it is interesting that the exam is shifting to online.

“I can see that going either really well or really badly. I feel like there is still a lot of room for kids to cheat even if they say they are locking it or anything like that. I really think it might be easy for kids to like get around that,” said Schaumberg.

Schaumberg said that students may try to find a way to cheat on the SAT.

“With the proctors I think that definitely leaves less room for error in allowing kids to do that because they will definitely be watching like a hawk. But I definitely think that kids will be looking for ways to get around that lock on the SAT and trying to use AI, use Google, use whatever they think they can use to cheat,” said Schaumberg.

Schaumberg said she thinks that AI will be a big issue with the SAT’s shift from paper to digital.

“Even if they sneak in their phones, that’s one way to do it. I know you can put grammarly AI on your screen at all times and it will be there even if they put a lock on the SAT. Grammarly AI could still be on their computer and it will allow them to cheat and use AI. So I don’t know. I think it will be interesting to see what they do.

Schaumberg said she thinks that students will probably find a way to unlock the BlueBook app. 

“There is some really smart kids with technology I think because they have grown up since they were like literally born and they have had technology for so long there have gotta be kids that know a way to get around that,” said Schaumberg.

For more information on the SAT exam you can go to the College Board’s website.