August 2, 2023

The Digital SAT: What’s Changing


The SAT is going digital, starting with the PSAT in October 2023.  How will the digital test be different from the existing pencil and paper exam? Take a look at the changes below.


The digital SAT will continue to measure the knowledge and skills that matter most for college readiness. The two sections of the digital SAT exam measure similar knowledge and skills as the current pencil and paper test, including:

  • – Use of reading/writing passages across a range of academic disciplines.
  • – Demonstration of command of evidence, both textual and quantitative.
  • – Emphasis on common words and phrases in context.
  • – Focus on revising and editing writing to demonstrate command of Standard English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation.
  • – Continued focus on Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Algebra, Advanced Math, and Geometry and Trigonometry topics.

The digital SAT will continue to be scored on the same 400-1600 total score scale as the current paper and pencil test. It will also still be administered in a school or in a test center with a proctor present. There will not be an option to take the digital SAT at home.


The digital SAT Suite of Assessments will utilize a multistage adaptive testing (MST) methodology. Being adaptive means the test can fairly and accurately measure the same things with a shorter test while preserving test reliability.

The Reading and Writing and Math Sections are each divided into two equal-length and separately timed modules. Students begin each test section by answering the set of questions in the first module which contains a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions that allows students to demonstrate their mastery of various knowledge topics. The questions in this second module are targeted to the test taker’s mastery level based on their performance in the first module. Questions are either higher difficulty or lower difficulty than questions in the first module. This means that the test “adapts” to present questions that are more appropriate to a student’s performance level.

Students and educators will receive scores in days, rather than in weeks with the current exam.

The digital SAT is approximately 30% shorter than its paper and pencil exam—lasting 2 hours and 14 minutes instead of 3 hours and 15 minutes. Students have 64 minutes to complete the Reading and Writing section and 70 minutes to complete the Math section, with a 10 minute break in between sections. Test takers will also have more time to answer each question, meaning that the digital SAT measures students’ skills and knowledge, not test-taking speed. 


  • – The digital SAT has a single Reading and Writing section instead of separate Reading and Writing and Language sections. 
  • – The digital SAT Reading and Writing section will have shorter passages each with a discrete question instead of long passages with ten questions per passage. Students will see a wider range of topics that represent the kinds of works they’ll read in college. At the same time, these shorter passages maintain the level of rigor of longer reading passages.


  • – A single Math section replaces the separately timed no-calculator and calculator portions of the paper and pencil SAT test. The average length of the word problems has been reduced. 
  • – Calculators will be allowed throughout the Math section. This change allows the Math section to more accurately reflect how students perform work in school and in the real world. Students may continue to use their own approved calculator on test day or take advantage of the calculator built directly into the testing application.


  1. EASIER TO TAKE – The digital SAT is an hour shorter and students can take the digital tests on a wide range of devices. 
  2. EASIER TO ADMINISTER – No more shipping, securing, distributing, and collecting test materials. Exam timing is handled by the test delivery platform itself, not the proctor. The College Board has also designed the digital SAT platform to function during momentary interruptions in internet connectivity without losing students’ work or time.
  3. MORE SECURE – The switch to a digital testing platform has eliminated the paper handling which came with security risks. 
  4. MORE RELEVANT – The digital SAT  measures the knowledge and skills that matter most for college readiness. 


Change can be confusing, but at Class 101 we are ready to answer all of your questions. Reach out to one of our college planning experts to discuss all of your digital SAT questions today.  


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