The SAT is Going Digital!

By The Dunbar Team


Put DOWN your #2 pencils…the SAT is going digital!

Like most assessment measures, the SAT has changed over the years. The newest—and some might argue—most noteworthy change is that the paper and pencil SAT will be retired in the U.S. in 2024. In its place will be a newer, shorter, and completely digital SAT that students (specifically, current sophomores, HS class of 2025) will take if they choose the SAT for college admissions testing, starting in March of 2024.

At Dunbar, we have been working to understand and prepare for what this means for our students. We have met with testing professionals (thank you, Summit and Applerouth!) and brushed up on the College Board press releases and want to share the highlights of what we have learned. Please note, since this is an evolving process, there still might be small tweaks and this information is subject to change.

Here are the big takeaways:

  1. The Digital SAT is significantly shorter. The new version will be 2 hours, as opposed to the paper and pencil version which is 3 hours.
  2. The Digital SAT is adaptive, which means it responds to your individual performance. While there are still two sections (Reading/Writing and Math), there are two modules within each section. Your individual responses to the first part of the module will determine the difficulty level of the second part of the module.
  3. The reading passages will be significantly shorter, and the content is expected to draw from a wider range of topics. There will be multiple short reading passages each with ONE question per passage.
  4. Given the new format, digital test takers are anticipated to have more time for each question. So less of a race to the finish!
  5. The entire Math section for the Digital SAT will allow the use of an approved calculator. The paper and pencil version has both calculator and no-calculator sections, so this is a big change.
  6. The timing for receiving scores will be faster–expected to be days vs. several weeks.

So, you might be wondering, what is staying the same?

  1. The Digital SAT will remain on a 1600-point scale (800 points per section).
  2. The Digital SAT will continue to be administered in high schools and at approved testing centers (it will NOT be offered at home).
  3. Comparing scores from the SAT to the ACT (referred to as “concordance”) will remain unchanged.
  4. Testing accommodations for those who are approved for them by the College Board will still be available (e.g., extra time).

We anticipate there will be lots of questions and we are trying to anticipate the big ones…such as:

  1. What device can I use? You can use your own laptop or tablet. You can also use school-owned devices such as computers and Chromebooks. According to the College Board, they will also provide a device to borrow on test day if a student needs one. There will be specific software called “Bluebook” to download prior to taking the SAT.
  2. What about practice tests? There will be practice digital SATs available within the Bluebook app, as well as through Kahn Academy. These practice tests are available now.
  3. What happens if the internet crashes? According to the College Board site, the digital SAT is designed to still function even with internet disruptions. It is advised however to have a fully charged device and a power cord on test day.
  4. What about the PSAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT)? It is expected that this will be digital as well starting in the Fall of 2023 (so, current sophomores/HS class of 2025 will take this in the Fall of their Junior year).
  5. Will this affect Test Optional colleges? No. For colleges that are Test Optional, you will still get to decide whether or not to submit your score. We’ll still encourage our students to thoughtfully prepare for either the digital SAT or the ACT with the goal of doing as well as possible. That advice hasn’t changed.
  6. What if I am an International Student? The timeline is different for non-U.S. students. International students will be the FIRST to have the digital SAT, launching internationally in March of 2023.