The SAT goes Digital

What Do I Need To Know About The New Digital SAT

We are only a few weeks away from seeing the SAT go digital. In March 2023, College Board will start administering the SAT in a digital format to all students living outside the United States. US students can expect to sit for the digital SAT exam from March 2024 on.

College Board has been preparing for this change for quite some time. The start of the pandemic in 2020 further helped to finetune SAT’s future digital experience when College Board had to quickly move all AP testing from being in-person to online at that time.

What is new and what stays the same?

  • Because of its adaptive nature, the official digital SAT Test will be dynamic, and each student will have a somewhat different test making cheating much less possible, if not impossible. 
  • With less than 3 hours long, the testing time is much shorter. 
  • Students will have more time to answer questions and a calculator is available at all times. Compared to the ACT, the digital SAT allows for 60.5% more time per question on the verbal part and 59% more time per question on the math part of the test. (Applerouth)
  • International students will have the same amount of 7 test dates available as US domestic students. 
  • The content on the digital SAT is consistent with the old SAT test. However, questions will be shorter and in the math section, there will be fewer word problems, which is especially helpful for international students. 

Students will take the digital SAT test on their own device

The Bluebook App on Collegeboard.org will be the platform on which the test is administered. It allows for the test to be streamlined and largely intuitive. Practice tests and the official test will be held on the Bluebook app. If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the interface, you can make an account on Bluebook already now at Https://bluebook.app.collegeboard.org/  

The platform is apparently very user-friendly. Every student will be able to take the digital SAT on their own device or can request a device from their school if needed.

How does College Board’s Bluebook App work?

Students need to download the Bluebook App on Collegeboard.org. The test will be pre-loaded and students automatically unlock the test with a code that they need to input once they start the test. It is anticipated that there will be fewer problems related to the internet since WIFI is essentially only needed at the beginning of the test to download it and then to upload the test’s answers at the end.

Once the test has started, the Bluebook App will have any other applications on the student’s computer blocked. Additionally, every keystroke will be saved on the student’s computer should anything go wrong during the submission process at the end.

The new digital SAT test – An adaptive exam

The digital SAT will have adaptive sections, not adaptive questions. What does this mean? 

There are two sections on the new SAT. 

  • Section One establishes a baseline. 
  • Section Two will adapt to be either easier or harder than the baseline Section One.

Because of this, students will face the SAT reading/writing part and the SAT math part in each section and work on it twice. However, the difficulty of each section will be different depending on if the student has been directed to the harder or easier Section Two

Within the baseline Section One of the test, there are certain items that will have a different weight in terms of skills and ability level. Therefore some questions could have a higher weight than others since they are predictors of certain knowledge. 

Scoring will be different on the digital SAT

In general, performance on the first section of the digital SAT can affect students’ scores more than in the later section since after taking the baseline Section One the student is directed into either a harder or easier part of Section Two

  1. If a student is directed into the easier part of Section Two, then the highest possible score that they can get on the SAT is only 650 versus 800 (scores can vary from 200-650 only) 
  1. If the student is directed toward the harder section of Section Two then they could score between 460-800.

Scoring differs because of the adaptive nature of this new digital SAT test. Essentially, it’s not the number of right questions answered that counts now but rather which Section Two the student was performing in.

What else can you expect from the new digital SAT test?  

  • The Math section has a bit more algebra, advanced math, and trigonometry.
  • Questions are grouped by type – i.e. students will work on a block dealing only with grammar-related questions or have various graphing questions in a row in the math section.
  • The reading and writing section is blended on the new SAT test.
  • The reading section has short passages with only one related question each. However, the reading level is pretty high and advanced. Also, the content changes very quickly within the reading section. A student might have just answered a question regarding some literary text and then have to analyze a science-related text.
  • Generally, there is less emphasis on vocabulary in the reading section now, and idiom questions have been eliminated.
  • An optional timer on the top of the screen will help the student to keep working through the test in a timely manner.
  • Students will need to have downloaded CollegeBoard’s Bluebook application one day before the test and need to fill out all personal information at home before taking the digital test at school.

Important dates regarding the start of the digital SAT

The digital SAT test will start :

  • March 2023 for international student 
  • March 2024 for US students 
  • October 2023 will see the first PSAT being administered digitally in the USA 

If you want to go more in-depth about the new digital SAT, here is a link to College Board’s “Digital SAT Suite Test Specifications at a Glance

International students can also find more information on the new digital SAT on Applerouth’s website dedicated to international students.

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