I’ve done the new digital SAT, here’s how I found it.
Attention all high school students! The SAT is changing from the standard pen-and-paper version to a new digital version in order to “meet the changing needs of students and educators alike”. The digital SAT was first administered internationally, beginning in March 2023. However, it will not be rolled out in the USA until May 2024. For those looking to apply to college in the high school class of 2024 (internationally) and 2025 (USA students), listen up as you will be taking this new digital version.
As an international student myself, I sat the Digital SAT in March 2023. It was my third time taking the SAT, the previous two times being the standard version, and, yes, I noticed a bunch of differences between the two, which I will share, along with some personal tips from experience that I believe will help you succeed.
What has changed?
- As the name suggests, it is now digital
Now that all the SAT Suite exams (SAT and PSAT) are digital, students will still take the exam at a testing centre, but will have to bring either their own personal laptop or use one that is provided at the testing centre. Note that some testing centres may not be able to provide devices, so always check whether this is the case for your centre before you turn up.
You can now use your calculator for the entire Math section. You can either bring your own graphic/scientific calculator (make sure it is an accepted device), or you can use the built-in Desmos Calculator, which provides you with all the same functions. Even though I brought my own calculator to the test, I used the online one for some questions and found it particularly helpful for graphing questions.
- Adaptive Testing
The old paper version of the SAT had three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Maths. However, the new version only has two: Reading, Writing, and Math. Each of these two sections is divided into two modules. In the first module, everyone will have similar, but never the same, questions. In the second module, the questions you receive will be tailored towards how you performed in the first module e.g. if you got more wrong in the first module, you will receive an easier second module and vice versa.
- Reading & Writing Section
Now remember, the Reading and Writing section is combined. Each module will consist of 27 questions you must answer in 32 minutes. Each question you answer in this section will be based on a different passage i.e., you will see an entirely new paragraph for each question you answer. This is a massive change from the paper version, where you were given one long passage and had to answer around 9-12 questions based on it.
- Math Section
The math section is remaining relatively the same. However, there is now just one section, with each module having 22 questions, for which you will be given 35 minutes to answer. Also, as mentioned above, you can now use your calculator for the entire section.
You will complete the new digital SAT on an app called BlueBook. This application has cool testing tools, which, if you are able to utilise them effectively, can help support you during the test.
Feature #1: Timer
At the top of the screen, a timer will show how much time you have left in the current module. This is quite helpful as it ensures that you are always aware of the time. However, if the timer brings you anxiety, you can hide it, and it will automatically show with five minutes remaining.
Feature #2: Strikethrough and Flag
Next to each answer choice is an option that allows you to basically “eliminate” answer choices. This is helpful because if you are stuck and know what two it definitely isn’t, you can strike through these, and when you come back to the question, it will show lines through these “eliminated” answers. You can also flag a question for review, so on the main page, these questions have a red flag above them.
As you can see, the new digital SAT has implemented quite a few changes to make standardised testing more accessible and efficient. I personally found the digital SAT very easy to navigate and didn’t run into any problems during my test; I would even go as far as to say that I preferred it over the standard pen-and-paper version. For more detailed information on ALL the changes and features of the new digital SAT, you can visit the official College Board website, or check out community and tutoring sessions on the Schoolhouse page.
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