Do BHS Students Prefer Testing On Paper Or Computer?

Higher-Level Testing Is Changing. Are Students Ready For It?


Image: Michael Quirk/Stock 

Students in Brunswick High School have a lot of experience with testing, and having grown up in an evolving digital world—they have experienced a fair amount of testing on both paper and computers. The Garnet and Gold staff polled Brunswick students on which method they prefer. 

While most of the students think testing digitally would be easier overall, many bringing up points such as the entering and collecting of answers would be faster and simpler if the test was fully digitized, 1/3 students lean toward paper when asked their preference. They cite reasons such as focus being better for them when using a paper and pencil, as well as preferring to have a hands-on approach. 

Despite the split, when asked which subject would be easier on paper, math took a strong lead. Indeed, as the University of Kansas’s study by Dr. Neal M. Kingston from the Department of Psychology and Research in Education, Kingston reviewed computer and paper comparable multiple choice assessments, and kids tend to do better on English and social studies when testing digitally, and better on paper for math assessments. The College Board’s study revealed that students’ writing scores also improved while the students were testing on paper. 

But is paper the way? The same study proves that reading scores went up dramatically for most students when reading on a screen. The researcher dug deeper into these results and found that the questions where students had to find the evidence were easier for the students to answer on a screen. One student from Brunswick says, “I feel like the SAT going digital will be more beneficial for the students in years to come due to the fact that they have already had a lot of exposure to technology before.” 

Along with this push, another famous test, the SAT, is going digital in 2024. There will be less time on the clock but along with that, the length of the reading portion will shrink. There will be calculators allowed all throughout the math portion as well. 

Do you prefer when testing is done on paper or digitally?


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However, with more and more colleges going test-optional for the SAT, in the face of recent admissions scandals over the fairness of the qualifying standards, is the SAT making steps in the right direction? The College Board’s study showed that Hispanic and non-native English speaking students tended to not score as high as other non-Hispanic students on the reading section. 

Many students seem to be looking for a compromise. “I think it should be digital for reading and paper for math,” one student of Brunswick proposes. Student agency is important to think about when considering the testing system and student learning style. 

What do you think?