The New Digital SAT® – What You Need To Know!

The College Board® has recently released information detailing the SAT®’s transition to a fully digital test by 2024. The new digital SAT represents a quantum leap from the traditional SAT evaluation system, justifying the drastic changes in its format, length, pattern, and interface. For current high school juniors and seniors, the announcement doesn't mean much, but for educators and younger students around the world, it entails a notable difference in what you can expect on test day and how you should prepare for it. In this article, we are exploring the new testing format, time, test sections, and how the test will be scored, to help you prep smarter for the upcoming digital SAT.

What is the digital SAT?

The digital SAT test is taken online through a testing app set up by the College Board. You need to install the app on your Mac or Windows device, Chromebook, or iPad to take the SAT online. If you do not have access to an accepted device, you can request to borrow one from the College Board when you register for the test. In that case, you will be provided with school-managed Chromebooks to take the test.

The digital SAT is shorter than the traditional paper-and-pencil version and has been designed to improve test quality, security, delivery, and access to students worldwide. More on these later; let’s start by asking why the SAT is going digital and how it is different from the current SAT.

Why Is the SAT Going Digital?

The transition of the SAT from the paper-and-pencil version to the digital one shows two things. First, taking the College Board digital SAT online will enable students to participate in a standardized evaluation of college readiness from around the world. It will be easier to administer and to take. Therefore, with the digital SAT being administered universally from 2024, you can expect to see a drastic rise in the number of test-takers worldwide.

Second, a recent survey conducted by the College Board in 2021 found that 80% of students want to submit their SAT scores with their college applications. Keeping this in mind, the College Board has introduced a host of features to the new digital SAT.

  • The digital format also promises much faster score releases. Students should receive scores in a matter of days rather than weeks. Speaking of scores, the new digital SAT score reports will link students to resources on local two-year colleges, training programs, and career options.
  • The College Board has also promised enhanced security measures to encourage more students to take the SAT. With the SAT going digital, every student will now get a highly comparable but unique test form, making it practically impossible to share answers.
  • The digital SAT will also offer more flexibility to schools and districts in administering the test.

Will the digital SAT affect you?

The release of the digital SAT will be staggered into two groups: International SAT and U.S. SAT. The international SAT test will follow the digital format starting in 2023. However, for the U.S. SAT, students will take the traditional paper-and-pencil test until December 2023. Starting in 2024, both U.S and International versions will be administered digitally. The table below shows the timeline for administering the digital SAT (2023 through 2024):

Cycle International SAT US SAT
Spring 2023 Digital Paper and Pencil
Mar 11, 2023
May 6, 2023
June 3, 2023
Fall 2023 Digital Paper and Pencil
Spring 2024 Digital Digital

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How Is the New Digital SAT Different from the Current SAT?

The first obvious change is that you will take the test on a computer or tablet. In addition, the College Board has introduced some major changes to the SAT that you should be aware of. Below is the list of changes as we switch from the old SAT to the new SAT:

To take the digital SAT, you will need a device that connects to Wi-Fi. You have to download and install the latest version of Bluebook® testing application on a Mac or Windows device, an iPad, or a school-managed Chromebook. You will have to sign in to the app using your College Board online account username and password. For more information about device and OS compatibility, check out this page on digital SAT device readiness here.

To make the testing experience convenient and hassle-free, the Bluebook app comes with the following handy features.

  • Mark for review feature helps you flag and return to any question within the test module if you wish to review later.
  • Timer has been included to count down the remaining time in each module. You can choose to hide the timer, but you will be notified when five minutes remain for the module.
  • Built-in graphing calculator to use for the Math section.
  • Reference sheet helps you access standard formulas you might need during the test.
  • Annotation allows you to highlight any part of a question and make notes.
  • Option eliminator will help you strike through the answer choices to a question you feel are not correct.

The “Help” section of the testing app will also include a list of keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate the application easily.

The digital SAT cannot be taken on a mobile phone but can be accessed on school-managed or personal iPads that meet the Collegeboard device specifications.

You may wonder how long the new digital SAT test is? The good news is that the digital SAT will be a considerably shorter test to take. While the traditional paper-and-pencil test takes three hours to complete, the digital SAT will only last two hours and 14 minutes. The table below compares the testing times of the old SAT vs. new SAT:

Paper SAT Digital SAT
Reading and Writing 1 hr 40 mins 1 hr 4 mins
Math 1 hr 20 mins 1 hr 10 mins
Total 3 hrs 2 hrs 14 mins

This change will not decrease the time you have per question; instead, the average time per question is increasing to 1.19 minutes per reading and writing question and 1.59 minutes per math question.

The digital SAT will feature a single Reading and Writing (RW) section instead of the two separate tests for the Evidence based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section that we see in the current SAT format.

According to the College Board, this change will help measure subject knowledge and skills more efficiently than the traditional SAT Reading and Writing assessments. The number of questions has also been dramatically cut down. Additionally, questions in this section will be jumbled and will not appear in sequential order of Reading and Writing questions, as they do on the paper-and-pencil SAT.

 Paper SATDigital SAT
ReadingWriting and LanguageReading and Writing
No. of Questions52 MCQs44 MCQs54 MCQs
Time65 mins35 mins64 mins

The math portion has also been replaced with a single math section instead of the two separate sections that we see in the paper-and-pencil SAT test format. Unlike the traditional SAT, which includes no-calculator and calculator-allowed sections, the digital SAT allows you to use calculators throughout the Math section.

Per the College Board, this transition will reflect the usage of calculators in schools and real-world scenarios more accurately than the SAT’s paper-and-pencil version. To ensure that you carry a calculator approved by the College Board, check out our page on SAT Policies. The digital app also has a built-in calculator if you forget to bring one.

 Paper SATDigital SAT
No. of Questions5844
Time25 mins55 mins70 mins
Calculator UsageNoYesYes

As you may already know, the digital SAT consists of two equal-length and separately timed sections (Reading and Writing; Math). However, each section will be split into two modules, running for about 32-35 minutes per module.

While the topics covered by both modules will be identical, the first module will contain a mix of easy, average, and difficult questions. Based on your performance in the first module, the SAT app will determine the difficulty of the questions you get in the second module. The multistage adaptive testing (MST) technology built inside the digital SAT app makes it possible for the test to be considerably shorter than traditional SAT while maintaining a similar difficulty level.

The College Board has not introduced any changes to the new SAT scoring policies. Like its predecessor, the digital SAT will give you three kinds of scores: a total and two section scores (Reading and Writing, and Math). Our SAT scoring guide will help you learn more about the SAT’s scoring policies. Although the scoring policy remains the same, the digital SAT score report will come with minor changes; subscores and cross-test scores will not be reported.

Will colleges accept a digital SAT? Yes, they will! The revamped SAT score report has also been redesigned to help you connect your digital SAT scores with colleges, training programs, and other career options.

The Digital SAT : What’s Staying the Same?

No matter what format it comes in, the SAT is meant to test how ready a student is for college and a career. As a result, almost all of the tested domains and how they relate to college and career readiness standards are the same. Here’s a list of things that the digital SAT shares with its paper-and-pencil predecessor:

  • The digital SAT will cost you $60, plus a $43 regional fee. This fee is the same as the standard paper-and-pencil SAT for international students.
  • The Reading and Writing section of the SAT will continue to organize questions into the four domains the current SAT uses. This means you can still expect a strong emphasis on questions about the meaning of words in context, the best evidence for an argument, and the appropriate punctuation or part of speech for a given text.
  • Similarly, Math questions will continue to focus on algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, advanced math, geometry, and trigonometry. The Math section will also continue to include short word problems and multiple choice and student-produced response problems.
  • On an even more basic level, the SAT will continue to be primarily made up of four answer-choice questions, will continue to be graded on a scale of 400-1600, and will be proctored in the same schools and test centers where it is currently administered. Those administrations will also allow comparable accommodations to any students who require them.
  • Finally, while the format of the digital SAT is designed to make the test experience simpler, the difficulty levels of both the SATs have been promised to be comparable to each other. Therefore, any given score on the digital SAT should be just as effective in securing college admissions or scholarships as the paper-and-pencil format.

How Can You Practice for the New SAT?

The College Board has recently released a preview of the Bluebook application to help students get familiar with the digital SAT testing interface. The Bluebook app comes with a few full-length practice tests that you can practice. CollegeBoard also provided a downloadable pdf of the digital SAT sample questions.

You can also take SAT practice tests in the traditional format to sharpen your skills and enhance your subject knowledge. UWorld's Online Practice Tests for the SAT come with in-depth answer explanations and self-assessment tools to help you develop a baseline for your SAT preparation and learn the content of the test. Of course, UWorld authors are hard at work creating questions that match the format of the new digital SAT.

And we don’t just show you the correct answer. We'll tell you why.

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Frequently Answered Questions

To take the digital SAT, students have to download the Bluebook testing application on a Mac or Windows device, an iPad, or a school-managed Chromebook.
If a student cannot access a personal device, they can borrow one from the College Board while registering for the test. They can also use school-managed Chromebooks to take the digital SAT.
The digital SAT app has adaptive testing technology, which means that the app creates a module by picking questions randomly from the SAT database. This makes it extremely difficult for test takers to share answers among themselves. In addition, the College Board has put in place various SAT Policies to keep the testing experience secure and convenient.
Yes, homeschooled students can take the digital SAT.
No, the SAT is not changing in 2022. The change will take effect in 2023 for international students, and in 2024 for U.S. students.
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