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8 Digital SAT Changes Affecting You


Out with the old, in with the new: From March 2024 and onward, the SAT will be entirely digital. 


Many students mistakenly believe this new digital SAT will be “easier,” but be wary of this mindset. If you are a high school student still trying to secure a competitive SAT score for college applications, you should be aware of 8 changes to the SAT that will affect you and your test prep.


  1. Online testing: The digital SAT will require you bring your own device (laptop, tablet) or borrow a device from your school or College Board. On the device, you will need to download Bluebook, the platform used for the digital SAT. This adds a layer of responsibility on you, the student: your device must be fully charged for the entire test or you must inquire about a device well in advance.

  2. Shorter: The digital SAT is about 46 minutes shorter, only lasting 2 hours and 14 minutes! Most notably, this change results from a shortened Reading section. Previously, the SAT gave students 4-5 long passages to read (500-750 words each) and 10-11 questions to answer per passage. In the new version of the test, each question will be paired with its own short passage of only 25-150 words.

  3. Only 2 sections rather than 4: The test will be streamlined into 2 sections: a combined Reading & Writing section and a Math (with Calculator) section.

  4. Adaptive & Personalized: The test will be personalized for each student through adaptive testing. Each section will have two modules and each of the test questions are weighted based on their difficulty. Your performance in Module 1 will result in either an “easier” or “harder” Module 2. Your goal will be to do your best in Module 1 in order to access the more challenging Module 2. The only way to achieve a perfect or near perfect score will be to do well on both Module 1 and Module 2.

  5. More Secure: Test questions will vary for students, especially since Module 2 will be different for each student based on their performance. This reduces the chance for leaked questions and cheating.

  6. Helpful Tools: Bluebook provides new tools that you should familiarize yourself with: 

    1. Countdown clock to pace yourself

    2. Graphing calculator for the Math section (you can still bring your own calculator as long as it follows the College Board Calculator Policy)

    3. Reference sheet for Math questions

    4. Tool to mark exam questions you’d like to return to in the module

  7. Content Changes: 

    1. The Reading & Writing section is now combined and emphasizes mastery in three key areas: Words in Context, Evidence, and Graphics. There is a new type of question asked in this section as well called Rhetorical Analysis which will require students to synthesize a set of information and answer a question to satisfy a specific goal.

    2. In the Writing portion, they have removed the “No Change” answer choice.

    3. In the Math section, you will no longer be tested on imaginary and complex numbers.

  8. Quicker Results but Limited Score Reports: Score reports may be available just a few days after your exam rather than weeks! However, College Board will not provide you with copies of your test questions in the Score Report since they will be saving many of these questions for future tests.

 

Biggest Takeaway: The Digital SAT is not necessarily easier, just different.

Do not fall into a trap thinking that a shorter, online SAT will automatically be easier. Your test prep could be severely impacted with this mindset. The test now requires new strategies because of the format changes. Less questions means less opportunity to earn points, so every question matters – especially in Module 1. Shorter tests should hopefully lead to less test fatigue and anxiety, but that means you should use your energy to practice consistently to perfect your understanding and application of the content.


Remember that you should still only take the SAT a maximum of 3 times. The quicker score turnaround may make you feel rushed to sign up for more tests; however, you need to take time to understand WHY you earned the score that you did and how to improve before registering for your next test. Since College Board is not releasing the exact test questions in your score reports, it’s important you find materials to practice. College Board will only be releasing 4 new practice tests each year, but B2A has been working since the announcement of the digital format on creating new curriculum, practice tests, and even a digital testing platform for more realistic test-taking simulations.


Give the new Digital SAT a try and let us know what you think! Digital testing isn’t for you? ACT offers a traditional paper test still, so you may want to switch over to ACT prep. Whatever your test preference is, B2A instructors are here to ensure you navigate these test prep changes and come out with a great SAT or ACT score. Please contact our front desk to determine how we can best help you. We are currently registering for our Spring SAT and ACT classes, and have 1:1 tutoring available as well!


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