The Digital SAT is Here – And We’re Ready
- November 30, 2023
- Posted by: Dr. Al Benthall
- Category: Uncategorized
As most of you know, the new Digital SAT has arrived. Starting with the March 9, 2024 test date, all SATs will be given via computer in official testing centers, making the Paper SAT a thing of the past. To put it simply, the new Digital SAT is a much shorter and more user-friendly version of the old Paper SAT. However, there are significant differences.
Many of these differences include updates that reflect the latest research in high school curricula and cutting-edge learning practices. Understandably, many parents and students have contacted me asking whether the time-tested Paper SAT strategies I’ve taught to over 3000 students over the past fifteen years will still apply to the new Digital SAT. The short answer is a resounding YES.
To illustrate this point, I recently had the privilege of tutoring a Kenyan student on the new Digital SAT as he prepared to apply for several top American universities. Because all international SATs went digital in Fall 2023, Ahmed needed to prep for the digital version on the November test. However, Ahmed was pressed for time, so we were only able to do a single 1-hour Zoom session. In that time, I was able to show Ahmed how to use my top five Digital SAT strategies on a number of sample questions, also showing him how to use my unique recursive training method to keep practicing right up until testing time. Ahmed took the Digital SAT in November and raised his score by 100 points, sending me the following note after he received his scores:
“Hello Dr. Al – I hope you are doing well. On my Nov. SAT, I saw an improvement of 100 points from my last practice test before I sat for the actual test. After our call, I’ve been going through the notes you sent me and I have been using the strategies you showed me and I have seen significant improvement. Before I would sometimes get stuck on two choices that seem correct, and end up most of the time choosing the wrong one. Now I am finding it easier to eliminate answer choices (and even having a reason as to why I’m choosing to eliminate a particular choice) after implementing what you taught me. Thank you for making studying for the Digital SAT enjoyable!” (Ahmed I., Othaya Boys High School, Kenya)
Ahmed plans to take the test again on December 2 in the hope of driving that point gain even higher. Based on his performance so far, combined with the strategies I’ve taught him, I’m optimistic about his chances.
How Does the Digital SAT Differ from the Paper SAT?
Since the College Board announced the format change last year, I’ve been hard at work studying the new Digital SAT, analyzing hundreds of sample questions and streamlining my testing strategies to work perfectly with the new format. The good news is that virtually all of the strategies taught in my SAT Master Strategies Class will translate seamlessly to the new digital format, with just a few tweaks.
To be clear, many aspects of the new Digital SAT will remain the same. These include the 1600-point scoring scale, the division into Reading/Writing and Math sections, and the multiple-choice question format. However, here are five major innovations on the new Digital SAT:
- Provides a shorter test with more time per question. The Digital SAT is a much shorter test than the Paper SAT. With only 98 questions, the Digital SAT allows 2 hours 14 minutes. With 154 questions, the Paper SAT allowed 3 hours. The Digital SAT also allows more time per question than the Paper SAT, giving students about 60% more time on both the Reading/Writing and Math sections. As a result, nearly all students who have taken the Digital SAT say they no longer feel rushed.
- Provides shorter Reading passages and combines the Reading and Writing sections. The long Reading passages on the Paper SAT have been replaced by single paragraph excerpts on the Digital SAT, which a student will be able to read on the screen without scrolling. Although long-form comprehension will not be tested (which many educators lament, including myself), students will be tested on a much wider variety of reading genres, including poetry and drama (which many educators praise, including myself). In addition, the Reading and Writing/Language sections on the Paper SAT have now been combined into one Reading and Writing section on the Digital SAT. As a result, reading comprehension questions are now mixed in with grammar question.
- Allows the calculator allowed on all Math sections. The Digital SAT permits calculators on all Math sections, whereas the Paper SAT included a “No Calculator” section. Students can bring their own calculators or use a built-in Desmos calculator on the screen.
- Uses adaptive testing to fit each student. The Digital SAT is split into four modules. The first two are Reading and Writing and the last two are Math. The first Reading and Writing module will tally the number of correct answers. Depending on how students perform on the first module, the software will then provide a second module that is either easier or more difficult. Correct answers to harder questions will earn more points. The same holds true for the two Math modules.
- Provides rapid score reports. Proctors will oversee test-taking, which will take place at schools or testing centers (not at home). Students will be able to take the test on their own laptop or tablet or on a school-issued device. Because of the digital format, students will now receive their scores in days, whereas scoring the Paper SAT took weeks.
For those who would like a side-by-side comparison between the new Digital SAT and the old Paper SAT, here’s a helpful infographic:
Please contact my executive assistant Bailey Raynor with any questions regarding the new format, or with any other questions on taking your Digital SAT scores to the next level.