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What to Do When the SAT Goes Digital

By Laura Whitmore

As you may have heard, the SAT is going digital in 2024. This is the fourth time the test has changed since I took it in high school in 2002! It will be important to strategize during this uncertain time of transition. Towards the end of this blog post, I will offer current 8th and 9th graders suggestions for how to handle the new upcoming changes to the SAT.

Features of the New Digital SAT:

  • The test will be shorter (2 hours instead of 3). One hour will be math; one hour will be English.

  • Long reading and writing passages with 10+ questions will be replaced by shorter 3-5 sentence passages with one question each.

  • It is adaptive, which means that the difficulty level of the questions given to the student will be based on how well the student is performing during the test.

  • Say “goodbye” to the no calculator math section; your son or daughter can use a calculator on the entire math portion of the new test.

  • An on-screen calculator will be provided, but you can still use your own.

  • An on-screen clock will be provided for time management.

  • You can use your own device to take the test. However, you cannot take the test from home. CollegeBoard asserts that they will offer more test dates in schools.

Who will this impact?

Current 9th graders and younger. If your son or daughter is in 9th grade, they will be the first class to take the digital SAT.

What should your child do?

If your child is currently in 9th grade, I would recommend that they prep starting in the spring of their sophomore year and finish by December 2023. Prepping BEFORE the new digital test releases is strategic: we know the format and content of the paper test AND we have a plethora of practice tests to use. Embarking on the digital SAT is entering into a world of the unknown; it is tougher to prep for a new test. After your son or daughter takes the paper version in 2023, they can then try the digital one in 2024 to see if it moves the needle with their score (optional).

Current 8th graders or younger (class of 2026 and beyond) can consider the new SAT, but there is risk with a new test format before we have ample information to support quality prep for it. I’d advise current 8th graders to plan on taking the ACT, provided its format remains consistent between now and then.


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