March 7, 2022 


Holding number two pencils over SAT exam papers with neat rows of empty bubbles just waiting to be filled is an experience many Americans older than 16 can relate to. Well, no more. Soon, there will be a whole generation whose quintessential SAT experience will be staring at a computer screen and clicking a mouse. Yes, the SAT is going digital. In a recent Q&A with the National Test Prep Association (NTPA), the College Board provided answers for those curious and anxious about the upcoming digital SAT.

Rollout of the Digital PSAT and SAT

  • The first digital SAT (for international students only) will be administered in spring 2023.
  • U.S. students will take the digital PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and PSAT/NMSQT starting in fall 2023. Note that the PSAT will be the same length as the SAT.
  • The first digital SAT in the U.S. will be administered in March 2024.
  • Students graduating from high school in 2025 will be first class to take the digital test.
  • Four full-length digital practice exams as well as a question bank will be released in Fall 2022.

The Format of the Digital SAT

  • The test has fewer questions and will be two hours instead of three.
  • Due to the new format, there will be significantly less administrative time during the test (no handing out and collecting paper forms, etc.)
  • Students will have more time per question to choose an answer and there will be much less focus on speed.
  • Within a section, but not across sections, students will be able to digitally “flag” a question and come back to it later.
  • Annotation tools will be provided, allowing students to “mark up” their test and take notes on passages.  
  • The test has a multistage adaptive design: the number of correct answers in a section determines the difficulty level of questions in the next section. As a student takes the digital SAT, the test gradually adjusts the difficulty level of questions based on its assessment of the student’s skill level following the first module, which includes a set of questions with a broad difficulty range.

What is Tested on the Digital SAT

  • The content of the exam will not change. Reading, Writing, and Math will remain the three skill areas tested. 
  • Although the Reading test will still test the same skills, long passages are gone. They will be replaced by 40 short passages on a wide range of topics each asking only one question per passage, including some infographic questions. Shorter passages allow students to spend more time applying their higher order thinking skills and less time locating and recalling information. Shorter passages also mean that not understanding one long passage will no longer have an excessive impact on a score.
  • Two to four experimental questions will be included in each section but will not count towards the score.

How to Take the Digital SAT

  • The test cannot be taken at home and must be taken in the presence of a proctor.
  • The test will still be taken at students’ schools or other officially designated testing centers.
  • Like now, the test will be administered seven weekends per year at national testing sites. Unlike now, more weekday testing options will be available, since the digital format of the test allows schools to offer more testing on school days during a specific window of time. As a result, students will have more choice and more opportunities to pick the best test schedule for them.
  • There are no limits on how often a student can take the test.
  • Students will download a digital testing application before test day so that they don’t have to worry about disrupted internet connections. Students can also easily go back and forth between questions in a module before time runs out.
  • It’s unknown whether the cost of the test will change, but a final decision should be made in spring 2023.

What Tools and Materials Can Be Used 

  • Physical copies of test guides will no longer be offered. Practice information and other resources will be available only on the College Board’s digital testing app and on Khan Academy.
  • The test is to be taken on a Windows computer, Mac, or Chromebook, which can either be a student’s personal device or one that is provided by a school or testing center. No tablets or mobile devices will be allowed
  • Calculators can be used for all math sections and will be onscreen; students no longer need to bring their own. Students may bring their own calculator, if they prefer, but it must be an approved model.
  • Math formulas will also be made accessible.
  • There will be a hideable on-screen clock to help students manage time. 5-minutes before the end of each section a warning pop-up will appear on the screen.

How the Digital SAT is Scored

  • Scores will be equivalent to the current paper test and comparable to the ACT, making a new concordance table unnecessary. While actual scores won’t change —they will still be presented using the current 1600 range—score reports will change.
  • New score reports will include information that will help students compare their performance to other students and to their past performance, including areas where they can improve. 
  • Score reports will also include new information that can help students consider academic and career options for their future.
  • Students will receive scores within days rather than weeks.
  • The Question and Answer Service will be discontinued.

How the Digital SAT Compares

  • The test can still offer as valid a measure of skills as the previous version of the SAT, despite having fewer questions, because of its multistage adaptive design.
  • The College Board is confident in the digital test’s capacity to accurately measure student’s ability and continues to do research to verify that the test is a reliable and valid assessment.
  • No two students will see the same questions, as questions will be drawn from a large question bank. So cheating from your neighbor will be impossible. Test security in general will be greatly improved.

Implications for Students and for A+

Despite more colleges adopting test-optional policies, the SAT is sticking around, and that’s a good thing. A recent College Board poll showed that 83% of students still want to be able to submit scores as part of their college applications. The upcoming digital SAT not only gives students that option, it also offers them a test with more appealing features, such as a shorter test duration, fewer questions, and more time per question.

A+ remains committed to preparing its students for the SAT. As we wait for the switch in 2024, news about the digital test will be shared on our blog and via webinars. For example, the College Board has promised updates on test content and practice tests this summer and more information about score reports later this year. Additionally, tutors will be familiarized with the digital SAT so they can make sure each student is ready for the new experience. In the meantime, students taking the SAT in 2022 and 2023 can prepare themselves with A+’s PSAT, SAT Foundations, and SAT test prep services.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Director Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188


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