The Digital SAT is Coming!

The Digital SAT is Coming!

There have been so many changes with the SAT over the last number of years that it is hard to keep up. From eliminating subject tests to changing the essay prompts – then eliminating them altogether – the SAT has been trying to stay relevant as more and more schools go test-optional. The next change is perhaps the biggest we’ve seen yet. The SAT is going digital! 

Starting in the spring of 2024, students will take the SAT on a computer or tablet using a special app that will be downloaded in advance of test day. (The PSAT will start digitally this fall.) No more bubble sheets to fill in or #2 pencils to sharpen. Besides this format change, many elements of the exam are significantly different on the new digital SAT. 

At EE, we are adapting our test prep methods to respond to these changes. New information and practice material is just coming out, but we know that many of you want to start with test prep soon. We thought it would be helpful to share some of the big changes with you:

  • The digital SAT will be a shorter test! It will clock in at 2 hours and 14 minutes and include only 98 questions (down from 154 on the print SAT). 
  • It will only include two sections (Reading & Writing is one section, Math is the other).
  • You can bring your own calculator or use the graphing calculator built in to the app. And calculators are allowed for ALL math problems (no more calculator and no calculator sections).
  • You can mark questions for review, skip them, and come back later.
  • You can highlight/annotate with an on-screen tool.
  • You can use process of elimination to mark wrong answer choices on screen.
  • A timer will be shown on the screen.
  • Long reading passages are gone. Students will see many shorter texts, each tied to just one question.
  • There are fewer questions and more time is given per question.
  • Scores will be available in just a few days.

Those are some of the simple-to-digest changes, but there are some other bigger ones that you’ll need to wrap your head around.

The digital SAT is a “section adaptive” test. Unlike some computerized tests, it won’t change the level of difficulty based on your performance on a question-by-question basis. However, it will adapt the difficulty level after each section. The first section or “module” will determine a baseline that will then lead you to a second section that is either easier or harder depending on how you fared on the previous section. The top score available to you will depend on which path you are taken to on the second module. If you are sent to the harder module, then a top score is still possible, but if you are funneled into the easier one, your highest score has a ceiling below others. 

The biggest switch from a strategy perspective is that the questions are no longer weighted equally. Questions don’t all count for the same number of points. The assumption is that you will be penalized more for getting easy questions wrong, and you will gain more points for getting tough questions correct. You’ll still be shooting for a perfect score of 1600 points (dare to dream!) but how you get there has changed significantly. 

One thing to be clear about is that the content you are responsible for knowing is mostly unchanged. According to the test makers, only the timing, format, and scoring have changed. If you’ve taken practice SATs in the past and done well with the paper and pencil version, you should be able to score well on the digital version as well. It’s just a matter of getting used to the changes and gearing up for test day. 

Practice, practice, practice! If you are eager to get started with digital SAT prep, the publishers of the test — the College Board — do not recommend using existing paper-and-pencil practice tests. They have added four full-length digital practice tests to their suite of assessments; these can be taken online once you’ve downloaded the Bluebook App and registered for an account at the CollegeBoard website. More official digital SAT practice tests will be added during the summer of 2023. These practice tests will be adaptive so students can get the full digital SAT experience. We also recommend signing up for official SAT practice on Khan Academy. You can target specific skills and take quizzes and tests whenever you want. And it’s totally free.

Change can be stressful, so it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the new exam and get comfortable with the format. More information can be found on the College Board’s Digital SAT FAQ.

Educational Endeavors has experienced and caring tutors ready to prepare your child for the new digital SAT. Submit a tutor request to get started with one-to-one tutoring or submit a workshop interest form to be notified when registration opens for SAT classes this fall.