Imagine a world where standardized testing adapts to your abilities, streamlines the process, and aligns with your learning experiences. Welcome to the era of the SAT digital testing! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about this groundbreaking shift in testing and how to prepare for success.

Understanding SAT Digital Testing

Digital SAT vs. Old Paper SAT

As the world moves towards digital learning, the College Board is adapting the SAT to:

  • Enhance security against cheating
  • Improve accuracy in assessing students’ abilities
  • Eventually expand the number of locations and testing dates available

This transformation is driven by the College Board’s vision for a more accessible and secure test, with a timeline for implementation in the US and internationally.

1. The College Board's Vision

The College Board seeks to increase accessibility, security, and alignment with students’ learning experiences by transitioning to a digital format for the SAT. Modifications to the PSAT now reflect the same quantity of questions and time constraints as the SAT, while maintaining a difficulty level appropriate for the grade level. The transition to a digital SAT aims to streamline the process for students to submit test scores to colleges and universities. Furthermore, the new digital SAT Writing section will no longer include questions about idiomatic phrases or commonly-confused words, better aligning the test with the skills and knowledge students acquire in their high school class curriculum.

The College Board is steadfast in its commitment to accessibility, providing accommodations such as:

  • braille and assistive technology compatible test formats for students with disabilities
  • universal accessibility tools
  • device lending to support students taking the digital SAT

2. Timeline for Implementation

The digital SAT is scheduled to be released for international students in spring 2023, with US students following in 2024. The digital PSAT is slated to be available in October 2023.

After March 2024, it will no longer be feasible to take the SAT on paper.

How Digital SAT Testing Works

Digital SAT breakdown

The digital SAT enables computer-based adaptive testing. It takes approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes, which is roughly one hour less than the conventional paper and pencil version. Although the core content remains the same, there are noteworthy variations between the new digital SAT and its paper counterpart.

We will delve into the format and sections of the digital SAT, along with the necessary devices and applications for taking the test.

1. Test Format and Sections

The digital SAT consists of two sections with a break in between, comprising a Reading and Writing section and a Math section. Major changes implemented for the digital SAT include:

  • Adaptive testing
  • Shorter passages
  • More direct questions
  • The combination of Reading and Writing sections
  • The allowance of calculator use throughout the Math sections
  • Calculator usage has been extended, with students having access to an integrated graphic calculator.

The SAT exam is getting an upgrade. It will be digital and take approximately two hours to complete.

2. Taking the Test: Devices and Applications

Students have the option to use either their own device or one provided by the College Board when taking the digital SAT, utilizing a secure application known as Bluebook. To borrow a device, students can visit the College Board website for information regarding device lending.

Should the internet disconnect while a student is taking the digital SAT, they will be able to continue the test with their progress saved. If the application or device crashes, students don’t need to worry. Their progress will be saved and they can resume the test.

Preparing for the Digital SAT

Digital SAT format

Students can maximize their score on the digital SAT by:

  • Familiarizing themselves with the new format
  • Underlining the significance of preparation
  • Using the free practice tests provided by the College Board
  • Following the checklist of necessary items for test day.

This section will cover official full length practice tests and resources, along with strategies for adapting study routines to the new format.

1. Official Practice Tests and Resources

The College Board offers digital SAT practice tests through Khan Academy and the Bluebook app, with additional sample tests being made available periodically. Their partnership with the educational nonprofit Khan Academy provides online practice that accurately reflects the digital environment of the new SAT.

International students can access the new digital practice material on Khan Academy by confirming they will be taking the SAT after March 2023.

2. Adapting Study Strategies

For optimal preparation for the digital SAT, individuals are advised to:

  • Answer all questions
  • Familiarize themselves with the testing program features
  • Practice specific topics and question types
  • Utilize practice tests
  • Take advantage of available resources

When preparing for the digital SAT, it is important to consider the differences between the digital test and paper test formats, practice using the online interface, and take advantage of available resources such as practice tests and study guides.

Experienced tutors can provide personalized instruction and guidance to help students prepare for the digital SAT. They can:

  • Assess students’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Create customized study plans
  • Offer targeted practice materials
  • Teach test-taking strategies specific to the digital format, such as navigating the online interface and managing time effectively
  • Provide feedback and support to help students improve their performance and confidence in the digital SAT.

Scoring the Digital SAT

The digital SAT is scored on a 1600-point scale, with 800 points allocated to Math and 800 points allocated to Reading and Writing. Students will still receive comprehensive information from their SAT score reports, and the digital SAT Suite will provide data about local two-year colleges and workforce training programs correlated to their achievements, interests, and financial objectives.

This section will cover the adaptive stages and scoring, along with a comparison between paper and digital SAT scores.

1. Adaptive Stages and Scoring

Rights-based scoring involves weighting questions based on factors such as difficulty level and content area, ensuring that each question contributes proportionally to the overall score. The difficulty of a question on the digital SAT is impacted by factors such as question complexity, adaptive modifications based on preceding performance, and the complexity of the algorithm used to convert raw scores into scaled scores.

Early research on the College Board’s practice tests indicates that questions of greater difficulty will have a higher value. However, students will not be informed of the exact number of questions they answered correctly or incorrectly on the new digital SAT.

2. Comparing Paper and Digital SAT Scores

Although the digital SAT will still be scored on a 1600 scale, superscoring between the current paper SAT and digital SAT will not be allowed. The correlation between ACT scores and SAT scores will remain unchanged, and the ACT/SAT Concordance will remain applicable, ensuring colleges can convert between SAT and ACT scores.

3. Test Day Tips for the Digital SAT

On test day, students must familiarize themselves with the rules and procedures for the digital SAT, along with understanding the elements that remain unchanged and those that have undergone alterations. This section will offer tips for test day, covering device preparation and requirements, and setting expectations for the test center.

4. Device Preparation and Requirements

Students should confirm that their device meets the specifications outlined by the College Board for the digital SAT. Acceptable devices include Windows laptops or tablets, Apple Mac laptops or iPads, or school-managed Chromebooks. Before test day, students must ensure their device is fully charged and that the Bluebook™ application is installed.

If students do not have their own device, they can request one from the College Board.

5. What to Expect at the Test Center

Upon arriving at the test center on test day, students should ensure they are on time, comply with the test center rules and regulations, and be prepared for any possible technical issues. Students are expected to arrive no later than 7:45 a.m. for the SAT test, and acceptable photo identification is required for admission to the test center. Adhering to the test instructions and refraining from documenting or recording any information from the test is crucial to prevent having scores canceled.

The Future of Standardized Testing: SAT vs. ACT

While the SAT is currently undergoing a shift to a digital, adaptive, and more concise format, the ACT will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. This raises an important question for students: which test should they focus on? With the continuous evolution of the SAT and ACT, students need to stay informed and select the test that aligns best with their strengths and college goals.


The digital SAT represents a significant shift in standardized testing, aiming to improve accessibility, security, and alignment with students’ learning experiences. As we’ve explored, it’s crucial to understand the new format, adapt study strategies, and make the most of available resources to achieve a great score. Embrace the digital SAT and seize the opportunities it presents for your future academic success!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a digital SAT test?

The Digital SAT Test is composed of two sections - Reading and Writing, and Math - each with 64 and 70 minutes of testing time respectively, making it the perfect tool to measure college and career readiness.

2. Is Digital SAT easier than normal?

The Digital SAT is generally seen as easier than the paper-and-pencil version according to students and College Board experts. This is due to its shorter duration, fewer questions, and computer adaptive nature which adjusts difficulty based on performance.

3. When will the digital SAT be implemented for international and US students?

The digital SAT will be released for international students in spring 2023 and for US students in 2024.

4. What are the major changes in the format of the digital SAT compared to the paper SAT?

The digital SAT has undergone several major changes compared to the paper version, including adaptive testing, shorter passages, more direct questions, a combined Reading and Writing section, and allowing calculators throughout the Math sections.

5. What devices can be used to take the digital SAT, and what application is required?

Students can take the digital SAT using Windows laptops or tablets, Apple Mac laptops or iPads, or school-managed Chromebooks, with the Bluebook application.

Hazel Ricky
Content Marketing Associate
Table of Content
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