Over the past few years, the SAT, a renowned college admission test, has experienced notable transformations to better assess students' skills and aptitude. In this article, we will explore the intricate differences between the old SAT and the new SAT format, with a specific emphasis on the modifications introduced in 2023.

The SAT serves as a crucial factor in college admissions, and understanding the disparities between the old and new formats is essential for students aiming to achieve their desired scores. By examining the changes implemented in 2023, we can gain valuable insights into how the test has evolved and the implications it has for test-takers.

The transformation of the SAT has been driven by the need to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of students' abilities, ensuring that it aligns with the skills required for success in college and beyond. By familiarizing ourselves with the specific alterations made in the latest format, we can better equip ourselves for the challenges and opportunities presented by the new SAT. Let's delve into the details and uncover the nuances that differentiate the old SAT from its modern counterpart the Digital SAT.

Difference Between Old and New SAT Format

The transition from the traditional paper-based SAT to the new format has introduced significant changes in how the test evaluates students' skills and knowledge. These modifications were implemented to create a more robust and comprehensive assessment that goes beyond mere memorization and recalls.

What has Changed in New SAT 2023?

As the SAT entered the year 2023, it underwent a transformative shift by embracing digitalization. This transition marked a departure from the conventional pen-and-paper format and introduced a new era of digital testing. Let's delve into the details of these changes and explore the benefits they bring to test-takers.

Digital SAT Main Changes

The Digital SAT assessments are witnessing the following changes:

1. Time duration is 2 hours and 14 minutes

2. The format is adaptive, i.e., based on the first module outcome the second module (easier or harder) will be provided.

3. Measures students’ skills and knowledge, not speed. 

4. More time to answer each question.

5. Calculator is provided throughout the Maths test.

6. Availability of various built-in tools.

7. Scores are announced within 13 days instead of two to three weeks.

8. Security enhancement in the new SAT format.

9. The digital SAT will be held 7 times a year instead of 5.

10. Questions are shorter, making it easier for students to analyze and answer faster.

11. Questions can be reviewed and altered throughout the module time duration.

12. Students can no longer cheat during exams as each question paper is unique.

13. Schools will have more flexibility in scheduling, thereby expecting more in-school testing.

SAT Sectional Changes 

Along with the basic structure of the SAT exam, the SAT syllabus has also been reviewed and a few changes have been incorporated. Check out the SAT sectional changes below: 

1. SAT Reading & Writing changes

Instead of two different sections, timed differently for Reading and Writing, the SAT digital aims to have a single Reading and Writing section.

SAT Digital Reading and Writing section would include shorter passages across a wider range of topics representing the kinds of works they’ll probably study in college. 

2. SAT Math changes 

Graphing calculator is available throughout the Math section exam of SAT. There’s only one single Math section which has replaced the two separately timed no-calculator and calculator-allowed sections.  

Students would be allowed to use their own calculators for the test. 

The average length of word problems has been reduced. These word problems would assess if students can apply their math skills and knowledge to both academic and real-world situations.

SAT Digital Exam Timing Changes  

Each section tested in the digital SAT exam has two broad sections.  

1. The SAT Reading and Writing section will have 64 minutes to complete the questions having 32 minutes of answering in both sections.  

2. The SAT Math section will have 70 minutes to complete the questions having 35 minutes of answering in both sections.  

3. The SAT testing modules (sectional) are timed separately.

4. Students can move back and forward before time runs out.  

5. Students are automatically moved to the next module, when the time runs out on the current module.  

6. After students complete the Reading and Writing section, they will be moved to the Math section after an interval of 10 minutes between the sections.  

New SAT Format 2023

The new SAT format introduced in 2023 divides the test into distinct sections, each designed to assess specific skills and subject areas. Let's explore these sections in more detail to gain a comprehensive understanding of the structure and content of the digital SAT.

(Breakdown of digital SAT format 2023)

What Remains Unchanged in SAT 2023?

While the SAT has undergone significant changes in its format and structure, certain fundamental aspects have remained consistent throughout the years. These enduring elements highlight the core principles and goals of the SAT as a standardized college admission test. Let's explore these unchanged aspects in more detail.

1. The overall scoring range of the SAT 2023 remains unchanged, that is, between 400-1600, where each section will be scored on the same scale of 200-800.

2. Students can still submit SAT scores in place of ACT scores, the SAT scores will be regarded equally as to the ACT test requirements.

3. The MCQ-based questions are still a part of the Digital SAT 2023 exam and remain unchanged.

4. Test content is largely unchanged.

5. Maths is testing the same material with less word problems.

6. Reading and writing will test the same material with shorter reading sections.

7. Accommodations for approved students with medical needs or learning differences will still be available on test day.

Benefits of the New SAT Format 2023

The new SAT format has its share of benefits:

1. Digital testing

With a digital interface, the SAT exam 2023 will provide a more productive experience for candidates seeking admission to top-tier colleges.

2. Time management

A shorter duration allows test takers to be more productive. A timer on the screen makes time management easier along with providing a 5-minute warning.

3. Multiple attempts

International students can attempt the new SAT format up to 7 times a year. 

4. Concise questions

The questions will be shorter along with more time allotted to each question.

5. Unique for each individual

The correct responses in the first stage of an SAT section will further determine the difficulty level for the questions that the candidates will see in the next section.

6. In-built tools

The digital version of the SAT comes with several critical built-in tools to ensure all students are equipped to succeed. The new SAT format will feature a Desmos calculator and clock on the screen, along with annotation and simple switching between questions and understandable math formulas.

Preparation for the Digital SAT

Are you looking for a platform to coach your students and familiarise them with the Digital SAT test environment?

Introducing EdisonOS, the game-changing digital SAT practice test platform designed exclusively for test prep tutors to revolutionize SAT prep. EdisonOS replicates the real Bluebook practice tests and leverages the power of AI to provide an adaptive and personalized experience. Our advanced platform generates practice questions and offers insightful feedback tailored to each test taker.


The transition from the old paper SAT to the New SAT represents a shift towards embracing technology in standardized testing. The New SAT introduces interactive question types, a digital platform, and a more comprehensive assessment of students' skills. While the old paper SAT had its own advantages, the New SAT provides a more dynamic and efficient testing experience. As students prepare for college admissions, it is crucial to familiarize themselves with the format, question types, and preparation resources available for the New SAT. Embracing this digital revolution will undoubtedly benefit students in their educational journey.


1. Is the New SAT more difficult than the old paper SAT?

No, the difficulty level of the New SAT is not necessarily higher than the old paper SAT. The changes in format and question types aim to better assess students' skills and knowledge, rather than increase the difficulty of the examination.

2. Will colleges prefer the New SAT over the old paper SAT?

Colleges and universities accept both the New SAT and the old paper SAT as part of the application process. It is essential to check the admission requirements of each institution to understand their preferences.

3. Can I practice for the New SAT online?

Yes, there are several online resources and official practice materials available for students to prepare for the New SAT. These resources offer sample questions, practice tests, and study guides to help students familiarize themselves with the test format.

4. Will the transition to the New SAT disadvantage students who are not digitally savvy?

The transition to the New SAT aims to incorporate technology in a way that enhances the assessment process. However, the College Board has taken measures to ensure that students who may not have access to digital resources or are not familiar with technology are not disadvantaged. Accommodations and resources are provided to support all students in taking the examination.

5. How long does the New SAT take compared to the old paper SAT?

The overall testing time for the New SAT is similar to the old paper SAT. However, the New SAT may feel faster due to the elimination of manual bubble filling and the streamlined digital interface.

6. Are there any advantages to taking the old paper SAT instead of the New SAT?

While the New SAT offers many benefits, some students may prefer the old paper SAT due to its familiarity and simplicity. However, it's important to note that the old paper SAT is no longer offered, and students are now required to take the New SAT or other alternative exams.

Hazel Ricky
Content Marketing Associate
Table of Content
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