An Overview of the Digital SAT
By Jay R on August 15, 2022
Earlier this year, the College Board announced that the SAT will eventually be administered fully digitally, unlike the traditional paper and pencil test. This shift gives rise to additional changes to the structure and formatting of the test which are crucial for test takers to know. To view the full details and updated information on the digital SAT directly from the College Board, visit this link. Here is an overview of the most important information regarding the digital SAT.
When will the digital SAT be administered?
The digital SAT will be administered at international test centers starting March 2023 and in the U.S. in Spring 2024. Since the majority of high school students take their first SAT during their junior year, this will first impact the Class of 2024 internationally and the Class of 2025 within the U.S. In Fall 2023, the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and PSAT/NMSQT will start being administered digitally as well.
How will the digital SAT be administered?
A variety of devices can be used to take the test as long as the tester has downloaded the digital testing application prior to the exam date. The application includes an option to mark questions for review, a testing timer, a graphic calculator, a reference sheet, and annotation tools. It is designed to withstand internet outages so students can continue to work through the test in the event they disconnect from the internet. Also, if a student runs out of battery causing their laptop to power off, there is no need to worry, as they can simply start charging their device and continue to take the test where they left off with no loss of progress or time. If students do not have a device that they can use for the test, they can also borrow a device from College Board to use at the testing center.
What will stay the same?
Although the test will be taking on a new form, much will remain the same as the paper and pencil version. The test will still be administered in schools or testing centers. Students will not be permitted to take the exam remotely at home. Both versions test relatively the same knowledge and there will still be separate Reading & Writing and Math Sections. The overall scoring scale of the test will remain the same with the SAT scores ranging from 400-1600. The College Board has noted that scores on the digital SAT will be “linked” to scores on the current SAT so they can be compared without any conversions.
What will change?
The overall length of the test will be shorter with a total of 2 hours and 14 minutes of testing time compared to the current 3-hour paper and pencil SAT. Although the total exam time is less, the average time per question will be greater. Because the test is administered virtually, students will receive their scores in a few days instead of the normal few weeks. Another unique aspect of the digital format is that each student will receive different but similar tests making the exam more secure and easier for schools, districts, and states to administer.
For the Reading and Writing Section, the major change is that the two parts will be combined so there will be a mix of both reading and writing questions within the same modules. Also, unlike the current test that has several long passages followed by numerous questions on the same piece of text, the digital test will feature more passages but they will be much shorter in length with a similar level of reading difficulty. With this, there will only be one question associated with each passage or pair of passages.
Similar to the Reading and Writing Section, the Math Section will now be a single section instead of containing separate No Calculator and Calculator parts. Calculators will be allowed throughout the entire section and students can either bring their own calculator or use the graphic calculator provided in the testing application. The College Board has also reported that the problems will be less wordy because too much context can cause students to answer questions incorrectly even when they understand the math concepts.
Each section of the digital SAT will now have two equal-length modules instead of separate portions testing different materials. Within each module, students can move between questions and review the questions in the module until time runs out and they have to move on to the next module. The Reading and Writing Section is a total of 64 minutes long, consisting of two 32-minute modules. After a 10-minute break, students move on to the Math Section which is 70 minutes long in total, divided into two 35-minute modules.
This breakup allows for multistage adaptive testing. Students will have various questions with a larger range of difficulty in the first module. The second module will then be tailored to the student’s performance in the first module to give them questions that are more appropriate for them. The benefit of this style is that the test can be shorter but still maintain reliability as it better measures student achievement and success. It also helps with security as each student would have a slightly different test making it more difficult for anyone to gain an unfair advantage.
Prepare with Schoolhouse.world!
Schoolhouse has lots of tutors who volunteer their time to help learners with SAT prep for free! Combined with SAT boot camps designed to prepare students for upcoming SAT dates, Schoolhouse is a great resource to practice and learn tips and tricks for the SAT. Although sessions are not currently focusing on the digital SAT yet, the sessions and boot camps can still be a great way to get a head start on the material!
Thank you Sharon V for editing this article!