Preparing for the New Digital SAT

Digital SAT Timeline

The College Board, the organization that administers standardized tests including SAT, PSAT, and AP, announced in 2022 that SAT and PSAT would be delivered digitally internationally in 2023 and in the United States by 2024.

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of college readiness assessments at the College Board. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform. We’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible.”

In this article, we are exploring the new testing format, particularly how it differs from the paper SAT, and how you can prepare for the digital SAT.

Digital SAT test-format

Compared to the traditional paper-and-pencil test, the digital SAT is considerably shorter to complete and has fewer problems. The paper test takes three hours to complete, while the digital SAT only lasts two hours and 14 minutes. 

The digital SAT features a single Reading and Writing (RW) section (with a total of 45 questions) instead of the two separate tests for the Evidence based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section (with a total of 96 questions) in the paper SAT. The current paper SAT features 5 long passages in the Reading section and 4 long passages in the Writing section with 10-11 questions associated with each passage, whereas the digital SAT will feature considerably shorter passages with a single question accompanying each. According to the College Board, this change will help measure subject knowledge and skills more efficiently than the traditional SAT Reading and Writing assessments. 

Unlike the traditional SAT, which includes no-calculator and calculator-allowed sections, the digital SAT allows you to use calculators throughout the Math section. The digital app also has a built-in calculator if you forget to bring one. In addition, the math questions in the digital SAT tend to be shorter than those in the paper SAT.

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Understanding the Multistage and Adaptive Design of Digital SAT

A key contrast between the paper PSAT and new digital SAT is that the new test is multistage and adaptive.

In the digital multistage adaptive SAT test, each test section (Reading and Writing, Math) is divided into two stages, called modules. Students answer 27 questions (2 of which are unscored and for test development) in the first module before moving on to the next. The questions in the second module are configured based on student performance in the first module. Students who do well in the first module will see mostly medium and hard problems, whereas students who do not perform well in the first module will see mostly easy and medium problems. The final section score will be calculated based on student accuracy and question levels in the second module.

Paper and Digital SAT shared features

Despite the main differences between the paper SAT and digital SAT, the two formats have some important commonalities.

The knowledge and skills assessed in the tests are similar.

The score remains the same 1600 scale, allowing students to super-score their SAT section scores from multiple tests. 

The SAT will still be administered in a school or a testing center with a proctor present, not at home.


Digital vs. Paper SAT

Read our guide on the Digital SAT. This article features a full graphic of the side-by-side comparison of the Digital and Paper SAT.

Read Here

How to Prepare for the Digital SAT

Since similar knowledge and skills are tested in the digital SAT as the paper SAT, students still need to know how to approach different question types and passage types, as well as review grammar rules and math content.

In terms of practice materials, there are very limited digital SAT practice tests available at this point. 

Official Digital SAT prep materials

The College Board has released an app called Bluebook, where students can download and take 4 complete adaptive SAT practice tests. In addition, the College Board has released some sample practice materials for students to have a preview of the new format. Just as for the paper SAT, you can find some official practice materials at Khan Academy

Unofficial Digital SAT prep materials

There are also unofficial digital SAT materials on the market, such as Barron’s Digital SAT Preview and Kaplan’s Digital SAT Prep Plus 2024. Although these books offer good drill practices, they don’t always resemble the questions you will encounter in the real exam. 

Can you use paper tests to prepare for the Digital SAT?

The College Board suggests that if you’re planning to register for the digital SAT, you should not take paper-based practice tests to prepare because the test format and length are very different between the paper and digital SAT exams. However, they can still use the paper SAT tests to drill in specific topics, such as different reading question types, grammar rules, and math concepts.

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7EDU Impact Academy 27 April, 2023
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The SAT is Going Digital
Differences and How to Prepare?