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The SAT is Going Digital! Big changes are happening with the College Board’s SAT & PSAT tests- they are going digital!

Jul 31, 2023 10:44AM ● By Michelle Mc Sherry

Maryline Michel Kulewicz and Tracy Sullivan of College 101 Admissions Consultants

Why digital testing? There are many advantages to implementing a digital test format, such as, it eliminates the need for human proctors, reduces the chance for students to help one another with answers, improves the availability of learning differences accommodations, eliminates bubbling- the time wasted when a student needs to transfer their answer to the bubble sheet,  and shortens the time it takes to receive test results. 

Who is affected? In most cases, but there are exceptions, the fall 2023 PSAT will be digital, and the SAT exams will be the current paper-version through December 2023. In the spring of 2024, all students will take the digital version of the SAT. The College Board, however, will continue to offer the paper version of the SAT test for those students who have specific accommodations. Also, the class of 2024 will not have the opportunity to take the new digital SAT exam since it will not be available until March of their senior year.

What are the major changes?   

• The most exciting change is the SAT digital test is now just over 2 hours, which is significantly shorter than the current SAT and ACT exam of 3 plus hours. 

• Students are allowed more time to answer the math and verbal questions. Compared to the ACT, the digital SAT allots, on average, 59% more time per question.

• The reading passages are much shorter and only have one question per passage.

• Students can bring their own calculator and use it for the entire math section. Students will also have access to the online Desmos graphing calculator.  

• Test scores will be returned within days - and not weeks. 

• A student will no longer be able to find out what questions they got correct or incorrect.  

What is staying the same?

• In general, the test content is staying the same.

• The Math SAT section is testing the same concepts, but the number of problems has decreased and will be more direct and concise. 

• The College Board has stated the scoring results will be the same, and students should score similarly as they did in the paper version of the SAT.

How will the digital test be scored? The test will still be based on the same 1600-point scale.  Although the scoring will be section adaptive- meaning the exam’s difficulty is modified in real time. Every student will receive the same set of questions in the first section of the test, and depending on how the student performs will determine the type of questions they receive in the second set of the test. A student who advances to the more “difficult” section has the opportunity to attain a score of up to 800 on each section, and a student who stays on the less difficult path has the opportunity to earn up to a 650 score on each section. 

Is this a better test? Time will tell. The goal of the new digital test, that now includes the adaptive method, is to better measure a student’s knowledge and abilities in a shorter, more efficient style- which is an exciting concept. It focuses less on speed and more on college readiness skills. However, one potential disadvantage is that students who realize their answers are not getting more difficult may become stressed that they are not doing as well and focus on performance versus just giving the test their overall best effort.  

 If you have any questions, please reach out to me at [email protected], or go to the frequently asked questions on the College Board website:  

Good luck and enjoy the journey! 

College 101 Admissions Consultants LLC. 

Website:  Email: [email protected]. Phone: (508) 380-3845.


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