Q: What kind of computers are required for an online test?

A: Students can use school-owned laptops, desktops or Chromebooks.

What are the safeguards against crashes, slow-loading tests or lost answers?

Pearson Assessment is the official administrator of the ACT test. They use the following technique: Each testing location has its own local server, which downloads the test, delivers it to individual students and collects the answers before returning them to Pearson’s home server. Once the tests are returned, they disappear from the local computers and server.

AIR Assessment is the official administrator of the SAT. They use a proprietary browser with built-in redundancies, including a diagnostic tool that helps schools assess the status of their own network and how many testers it can support at one time. Responses are saved on multiple servers, so if the connection is disrupted students can log on elsewhere and pick up where they left off.

Q: There are adaptive tests administered for various level of education. Is there any conversation about the online test becoming one day and adaptive test?

Adaptive tests adjust the level of questioning according to how the test taker performs on prior questions, so that low scorers are asked fewer of the hardest questions and high scorers don’t need to waste as much time on easy ones. That kind of test can provide a more detailed picture of what students have mastered. It also means test takers get different questions in a different order from one another and from previous exams that may have been leaked or stolen. We at Damian SAT ACT Prep in North Palm Beach, we offer students the necessary training to be prepared for an adaptive test.

Q: Which tests are using the adaptive approach?

The GRE and G.M.A.T. graduate exams are adaptive tests, as is the Smarter Balanced test some states use to measure Common Core skills in grades 3 to 11. Language placement exams are often adaptive, as are licensing exams for pharmacists, accountants, paramedics and other professions.

Q: Why is then SAT and ACT not an adaptive test yet?

Just to go online has required exhaustive studies and statistical analysis to ensure comparability of a paper exam score with one from a computer, time the test loading and scrolling speeds of various laptops, and assure that computerized testing doesn’t work to the advantage of some groups of students over others.

Also, adaptive testing also demands a much larger bank of candidate questions.

Q: If my school gives the SAT or ACT online, can I request a paper version instead?

If the school opts for online testing, only students granted special accommodations for a disability can take it on paper. But schools may opt for a mixed mode of testing, which would allow students to choose. At Damian SAT ACT Prep in North Palm Beach we train students on paper taken tests. However, we are ready to gear up for the online testing.

Q: Digital ACT and SAT tests are given on more than one day. Are they different tests, and if not, what’s to prevent students sharing questions and answers online?

Both companies are aware of the possibility of sharing information online or media. Both companies work towards securing the test. They have never released any information about their efforts in order not to jeopardize the security of the process.

Q: Is scratch paper allowed? Does the online test have any useful features that paper tests don’t?

Both tests allow pencils and scratch paper. Both tests allow you to bookmark items to return to later and have a countdown clock to keep track of time left in the section. The ACT lets you cross off answers you want to eliminate, and it marks unanswered questions with an orange dot, while the SAT provides electronic scratch paper and the ability to highlight passages.

Q: Where can I test drive an online test?

For the ACT, visit the TestNav website, Students also may access timed and untimed ACTs to become comfortable with the testing, using Preparing for the ACT Test Taken Online. For the SAT, the College Board recommends Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy, Students also are given practice questions on the actual AIR test platform ahead of test day.


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