Like banking, job applications, and many restaurants’ menus, the SAT has gone digital. Or at least it will be delivered digitally starting in 2024.
This test, which has always been administered using physical test booklets and answer sheets, will be accessed on laptops and other school-issued devices beginning with this year’s freshmen class (the class of 2025).
This monumental change has left many students and educators alike wondering how the digital format will influence the test and student test scores, especially since the SAT platform is not the only change the College Board is making to the SAT.
Here is everything you need to know about the changes you will see on the new digital SAT:
The test is shorter
As of the time this article was published, the College Board plans for the digital SAT to run for roughly two hours, an hour shorter than the current SAT.
While students will still have to learn how to pace themselves to get through all of the questions in time, they will no longer have to will themselves to stay focused for a three-hour-long test.
There are only two sections
In addition to reducing the duration of the test, the College Board has also reduced the number of sections on the SAT down to two: a Math section and a Reading and Writing section.
With this change has also come a decrease in the number of questions asked. For instance, some of the reading passages in the new Reading and Writing section only have one question attached to them instead of the usual ten.
Although there will only be two sections, it is important for you to know that they will generally cover the same material as before..
Calculators are allowed for the Math section
The current SAT has two math sections, one that allows students to use their approved calculators and one that does not.
On the digital SAT, students will be allowed to use their calculators for the entire math section. While it’s always a good tip to avoid over-relying on using your calculator while taking the SAT, you will be able to use your calculator for each math question if you choose to do so.
The test will be more equitable
One of the aims the College Board has for this new SAT is equitability. If students don’t have their own devices to take the test, one will be provided for them. Test questions and the development of the test will take student and educator voices into account with the aim of providing fairer and more relevant questions.
While there are still questions circulating about ensuring students have reliable internet access at their test centers, the College Board has made it clear that they are taking factors regarding equity into account as they work on this new test.
Security will be a priority
A major benefit to the digital SAT is increased security. While it might seem like taking the test online will open the College Board up to a host of new security risks, this could not be further from the truth:
- Eliminating printing and delivery means fewer opportunities for everything from printing mishaps to intentional sharing of information prior to test day.
- Students will not lose their work if their device loses power or runs out of battery
- Each student will have unique, adaptive testing measures preventing students from having the same exact test.
- Since students’ tests will differ, one person compromising a test will not cause other students in the same testing room or test center to have their scores canceled.
- The College Board is developing a platform that will be rigorously tested to ensure students cannot open other windows on their computers or otherwise gain an unfair advantage when testing.
Scores will be released earlier
Digital tests mean digital scoring and no need for graders to pour over free-response answers or messy bubble sheets
Instead of waiting for weeks to receive their SAT scores, students will be able to see how well they did in days. Earlier score release has a few benefits:
- Students can take the test more times: When choosing a test date, many students try to find one that allows them to take the test late enough in the year that they have the chance to study for it, but early enough that they can learn from their score report and retake the test a couple of times before college applications are due if necessary. When scores come out in a matter of days instead of weeks, it gives students more opportunities to retake the test.
- Students can take later administrations: Currently, students only have a limited window to take the SAT their senior year before applications are due. An October test administration will be too late for those seeking early admission because colleges won’t receive their scores in time. However, with the new SAT, students can wait for later administrations to take the test because their scores will be reported and received by colleges far more quickly.
As you can see, the new digital SAT brings exciting new changes that are meant to help students have a better chance of doing well on the test, opening more doors and opportunities in their futures.
However, while there are a lot of changes that students can expect, there are several factors that will stay the same: the test will still be administered in-person at a test center with a proctor, it will still be out of 1600 points, and it will still cover the same content.
This means that students who plan on taking the SAT still need to be prepared to spend hours studying for the test so that they can earn a good score. Just because the test is shorter and allows students to use a calculator for the math questions doesn’t mean that it is inherently easier or that students won’t have to devote time and effort to studying for the test to get a good score.
Although the test will look different, the two key resources to help students prepare for the SAT won’t change. To do well on the SAT, it is recommended that students take an SAT prep course and/or work with a private SAT tutor.
Regardless of the platform or length of the test, the SAT requires students to know and use strategies that will help them master each section of the test. Tutors and prep class instructors can help you navigate all of the changes on the new test, develop a strong understanding of the content covered on the test, and equip you with tips and strategies that will help you reach the top percentile.
Start preparing early when you sign up for an SAT prep course or private tutoring through Prep Expert today.