Is the Digital SAT Easier?

Starting in March 2024, students who take the SAT in the United States will take the new, digital version of the test rather than the traditional pen-and-paper version.

When the College Board announced their transition to the digital SAT, they also noted that this move would do more than “simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform.” 

While the concepts tested on the SAT will stay the same, the digital SAT will include several major changes that will simplify the test taking experience.

This news has left many students wondering: is the digital version of the SAT easier?

The simple answer to this question is yes

College Board’s vice president of College Readiness Assessments says “The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant.” 

However, just because this test is supposed to be easier does not mean that you should go into the new SAT blind.

Here are the new features that will make this new test easier and strategies you can use to master the digital SAT:

Why is the digital SAT easier?

To make the test more accessible and relevant for students, the College Board has made several modifications to the SAT. 

Since these changes have nothing to do with the concepts covered on the test, it might seem strange that the new test is easier. 

However, according to the students who have piloted the new SAT, these new changes have made the digital SAT easier than the traditional version.

Here are a few reasons why the digital version of the SAT is easier for students:

The new SAT is shorter

Whereas the traditional SAT clocks in at 3 hours and 15 minutes, the digital SAT is just two hours long. There are fewer questions on the test, and students have more time to answer each question.

This means that students will not be as bogged down with test fatigue while they are taking the test, and they will be able to spend more time reading and calculating answers thoroughly as they make their way through the different test sections.

The Reading and Writing and Language sections will be combined

The digital SAT combines the Reading and the Writing and Language sections so that students have fewer questions to answer and less to read while testing. 

Instead of reading several long passages and using this information to answer several questions, students will encounter one short reading question per passage. The grammar related questions will follow a similar format.

Students who struggled with the reading stamina required to power through long passages about irrelevant topics will welcome this new Reading and Writing section.

Calculators are allowed for all math questions

Yes, calculators were always allowed on the SAT, but with the new version, they are allowed for all of the SAT Math questions.

Unlike the traditional SAT, which had a math section that did not allow calculator use, the digital SAT has a built-in calculator students can use during the SAT Math section.

The digital SAT is adaptive

Each section of the digital SAT will be adaptive.

Students who do well on the early questions of each section will encounter more difficult questions as they progress, which will increase their chances of earning a top score. Students who do not do well on the early questions will have easier questions as they continue to test.

While this might seem like a change that would make the test easier, it is helpful for students who find themselves getting discouraged part way through the SAT. Adaptive questions will boost their confidence and reduce their stress levels.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed and throwing in the towel, which would drastically lower their scores, these students still get the chance to push themselves and move on through the test, boosting their chances of getting a higher score.

Adapting to the new SAT

Now that you know the reasons why the digital SAT is considered to be easier than the traditional version, you will need to consider how you’re going to tackle this new test.

Just because the digital SAT may seem easier does not mean that students who take this test will end up performing better.

Regardless of the shortened passages, built-in calculator, and other factors that simplify the digital version of the SAT, students will still be tested on the same concepts.

If you don’t know how to approach the Heart of Algebra questions on the test, it won’t matter that you have unbridled access to a calculator for the math section. 

If your reading comprehension is poor, it won’t matter if the passages you have to answer are shorter.

You’ll still need to have good study habits and a strong game plan in place far before test day if you want to earn a high score.

Plus, you also need to consider that the features that make the digital SAT easier for you also make it easier for everyone else who takes the test.

The digital SAT is not a free pass to the 99th percentile. If you want to impress college admissions officers and scholarship committees with your score, you’ll need to work just as hard as before.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you on the digital SAT:

Don’t feel overconfident

As mentioned above, the changes that make the new SAT easier don’t guarantee a great score on the test. Make sure you are still taking your time and trying your best on the test, even though it’s shorter. 

Don’t assume the reading passages will be simple just because they aren’t as long as the ones on the traditional SAT. Don’t feel like you can spend a ton of extra time on each question just because you have more time per question on the digital SAT.

Keep your best testing practices in mind, and don’t allow overconfidence about the test to get in the way.

Don’t over rely on your calculator

While this is a common tip, it is especially important to consider when you’re preparing to take the digital SAT. 

Because you have access to your calculator for all of the math questions, you may be tempted to use it on every question. Don’t let your access to the built-in calculator slow you down. If you can answer a question quickly without the calculator, don’t let it become a hindrance.

Use a familiar computer

The College Board will allow you to use your own device when you take the digital SAT. If you have the means and access, make sure you are using a device that you are comfortable using when you take the test. This will eliminate a stressor and allow you to focus on the test rather than on how to navigate the scrolling tools or other features of a new laptop.

Don’t psych yourself out

Just because the test is adaptive doesn’t mean that you are doing poorly if you encounter a question that you answer easily.

Many students will make predictions about their performance based on their perceptions of the level of difficulty of each question. If they receive several questions that they answer quickly, they may allow that to get in their head and influence their performance moving forward.

Take each question in stride and don’t allow the adaptive nature of the digital SAT to affect your testing strategy.

Get help from experts

Working with a private SAT tutor or taking a SAT prep course will help you learn the content and the strategies you’ll need to do well on the digital SAT.

Learn more about how Prep Expert can help you earn your target score on the SAT when you visit our website