Digital SAT chatter: 4 early rumors and what they could mean for students

The test prep world is eager for more details about the digital SAT, and it's no surprise we've started hearing chatter about the changes students will see on the new exam. Of course, we don't know how many—if any—of the rumors will end up proving true when the first administrations of the digital SAT finally take place. However, we can begin considering certain insights as we look ahead.

So, what are people saying, and what could these early rumors mean for students?

1. Reading passages might include poetry.

We're hearing that poetry might make an appearance on the Reading & Writing section, making good on the College Board's promise to feature a wider range of passage types. In past years, poems were reserved for the now-discontinued SAT Subject Test in Literature. Repurposing some of those passages and questions is one easy way for the College Board to develop content for its adaptive tests.

Students looking to get a head start on their digital SAT prep can refer to past Literature exams for an idea of what those passages might look like and work with test prep experts who know all the best strategies for tackling SAT-style poems.

2. Paired passages are likely here to stay.

Even though the verbal passages are getting shorter, it sounds like students will still encounter paired passages with accompanying comparison questions. The usual strategies for dealing with double passages on the SAT should still apply: identifying the passages' main purposes and arguments, determining their overall relationship, and so on.

3. The new exam might have a greater focus on vocabulary.

Word on the street is that the verbal section will focus more heavily on students' vocabulary knowledge. It will be interesting to see if the vocabulary questions still involve using context from some kind of passage or if we're returning to old-school, standalone sentence completion questions. Either way, a greater focus on vocabulary would make sense as a way for an adaptive test to quickly differentiate between students' score levels. Reviewing vocabulary lists and flashcards will likely become a bigger part of students' study plans in the future.

4. Math problems will likely have a similar feel to the ones on the current SAT.

It sounds like the Math section of the new exam will have a similar feel to the Math-Calculator portion of the current exam. If anything, having more time per question could make this section seem easier to students. Because we haven't heard of major changes to the content or structure of the questions on this section, we anticipate that students can prepare for the Math portion of the digital SAT much the way they are now.

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Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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