The New Digital SAT

Starting in Spring 2024, the SAT will be given in digital format only. Thus, those in the Classes of 2025 and 2026 who intend to take the SAT will need to prepare accordingly.

For the Class of 2025, current high school Sophomores, can either take the SAT on paper this Fall 2023 (the last dates the paper and pencil version will be administered) or digitally, which will be the only version given starting in Spring 2024. 

As a caveat, the ACT will continue to be administered only on paper. So, students will continue to have a paper and pencil standardized testing option, since college admissions officers consider the SAT or ACT equally

To introduce the new digital SAT, some facts about the test: 

  • Two sections: Math, and Reading and Writing
    • Students can use calculators on the entire Math section (unlike the current version).
      • A built in graphing calculator is available or students can bring their own calculator
  • Two hours and fourteen minutes of testing time, an hour less than the current three hour and fifteen minute paper version
    • The Math Section is 70 minutes total, broken into two modules of 35 minutes each
    • The Reading and Writing Section is 64 minutes total, two modules of 32 minutes each
  • Students must test at an authorized testing center, like their school, but can use their own device: iPad, laptop (Windows or Mac iOS), or Chromebook
    • If the student or school does not have a device, The College Board will provide a loaner device for the test. 
    • Students must download the Bluebird app (see above link) to take the digital test
    • Students should have a fully charged device, as well as bring their charger as a backup

Some facts about the mechanics of taking the test. Students can: 

  • Mark any question for reference to return and answer at a later time
  • Comment on any question, highlighting the section and making a note 
  • Access a list of common math formulas (just like on the current paper version)
  • Choose to hide the running timer on the testing screen, and will receive a five minute warning before the end of the section
  • Should the internet connection drop or power be lost, the student’s timer will automatically be suspended as well as their place in the test section bookmarked. Then, the test will resume as soon as connectivity and power is restored. Students lose no time or progress. 

Question format: 

  • Multiple choice and fill in the blank questions in the Math section.
  • In the Reading and Writing section, students will read a short excerpt of a few lines, then answer one question. (Students will no longer read a multi-paragraph passage, then answer a set of questions about the single passage.) 
  • FYI: Practice Tests from the College Board. both the digital version (with download of test app) and full length (non-adaptive) practice tests to sample questions

The digital SAT is adaptive, where the second half of questions are dependent on the student’s answers on the first half of questions. On Module 1, students answer easy, medium, and hard questions. Then, based on a student’s Module 1 answers, the Module 2 questions are targeted either higher or lower in difficulty (on average) than the Module 1 questions. 

Since the Fall 2023 PSAT, given in October, will be digital and adaptive, I recommend all Class of 2025 and 2026 students take the PSAT as a trial run. Then, students can make an informed choice about taking (or not) the digital SAT, if they decide to add a standardized test score, as test-optional policies may persist.

For more information about how to both plan for and navigate the complex college admissions process in order to minimize the risk of educational malinvestment, check out Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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