6 Things Every Student and Parent Needs to Know About the New SAT

From the old SAT to the new SAT, here's what you'll need to know about the new one.

Source: Flickr user billselak.

The SAT has undergone a number of changes in the past 15 years, and it’s set to undergo some new ones in the next year! The biggest one is the fact that the SAT will no longer be done on paper – it will be entirely digital. 

Here’s what you need to know about this major adjustment to the SAT, plus 5 others that are coming with the digital rollout.

1. The SAT is Going Digital

The biggest adjustment on the horizon for the SAT is the fact that it is going digital. Traditionally taken on paper with a number 2 pencil, the exam will soon only be given through an application known as Bluebook on a tablet or laptop. 

For international students, this switch has already taken place. However, the change becomes permanent for everyone, including those in the United States, on March 9th, 2024. Fall 2023 will also see the introduction of a digital PSAT. 

Students will not be able to choose between paper and digital formats. The idea behind the change is that it will be easier to proctor and easier to take. It also should make the SAT more accessible to students. The SAT can be taken on the student’s device or one that is borrowed from the College Board or their school, and students can also opt to take the exam at either a testing center or their own school during the day or over the weekend.

2. The SAT is Switching to 2 Sections and Introducing Modules

With the change to digital, the SAT is also getting some adjustments to the sections of the exam. Previously, the sections were Reading, Writing and Language, and Math (calculator and no calculator). Reading and Writing are merging into one section, and the calculator will be available for use during the entire Math section.

In addition, the SAT is renaming its sections to modules: Module 1 and Module 2. Like previously, students will not be able to switch between sections or modules. Once the test taker has completed Module 1, they will not be able to go back to that section.

3. The Exam Will Be Shorter

Due to the streamlining of the exam and reduction of sections, the test will also be shorter. The pen and paper SAT took 3 hours; the digital version will only take 2 hours and 14 minutes. 

Questions are also getting trimmed down a bit. Passages, for example, will be shorter and there will only be one question per passage. In both modules, students can expect more direct questions.

4. The SAT Will Be More Personalized

With pen and paper SATs, there is no room for personalization. Every student gets the same test. 

With the new digital SAT, however, students will instead experience adaptive testing. This resource creates a tailored SAT experience for the test taker. And your results on Module 1 will actually be used to generate the questions you see in Module 2! 

5. New Tools Are Being Introduced

Digital tools are coming with the digital test. Students will be able to use a countdown clock to better manage their time, a built-in graphing calculator, and a reference sheet for the Math section. In addition, students will be able to mark questions, such as difficult ones, that they need to return to later in the exam!

6. Students Will Get Their Results Faster

Usually, SAT results take a few weeks to get back. With the recent changes, students can expect their results in just a few days! This will make it much easier for college-bound test takers to sit for last-minute exams and get their results to the school on time. 

Results will include the usual information:

  • percentile rankings
  • score breakdowns
  • information about four-year schools and scholarships

In addition, it will also have additional details on community colleges, career options, and workforce training going forward. 

The new digital SAT is set to roll out in the United States in March of 2024, though that date may change. At the moment, students are advised to continue taking paper practice tests in order to prepare for their test date. As the digital SAT release date draws closer, the College Board plans to release practice SATs online that follow the new format. 

Whether you end up taking the pen-and-paper SAT this year or the new digital exam next year, you should aim for the highest score you can get! It could impact your chances of getting into your dream school. If you’re curious what scores your colleges are looking for in a student, be sure to use our free College Match tool right here.

One thought on “6 Things Every Student and Parent Needs to Know About the New SAT”

  1. pseudonym sue says:

    ” recommend you opt to focus on the ACT this year.

    Why? Because it’s a known exam.”

    not exactly. there was a new scoring protocol for the act essay this fall resulting in a hot mess of scorer training issues and exam turn-around times. I can’t say more publicly, but this is not a good time to be taking ACT essays.

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