Digital SAT: First official questions and over 200 pages of new information released

The College Board just released a huge amount of new information on the digital SAT, including example questions, a 20-page overview, and a 191-page deep dive.

While we’ve known for months that, starting next year (March 2023 for international students, March 2024 for the U.S.) the SAT will be going fully digital and changing some of its content, we had only rumors and incomplete descriptions of what this new test would look and feel like—until now.

We’re still busy poring over all the newly released information. But there are already some significant top-level reveals for us to highlight:

We now know how the test is organized.

First up, we now know exactly how many questions there will be in each section, and we know how much time students will have to complete them:

College Board Digital SAT Overview

Both the Reading and Writing (RW) section and the Math section will be split into two modules. The modules will be back-to-back, with no break between—when time runs out on the first, the second will start right away. As has already been revealed, the new SAT is adaptive, so how well a student does on the first module will determine the difficulty and scoring of the second.

Each module of the RW section will contain 27 questions. Two of these are “pretest” questions, which are unscored experimental questions that are (contrary to their name) not necessarily at the beginning of the module but are instead mixed in among the normally-scored questions. These experimental “pretest” questions are designed to be indistinguishable from the regular questions, so students won’t know which questions count and which ones don’t.

Since there are 32 minutes allotted for each of the RW modules, students will have an average of 1 minute, 11 seconds per question. This means that students will actually have slightly less time per question on the new test than on the old (approximately 4 seconds less per question), but that’s offset by a shortening of passages; each question in this section will have its own passage, and the passages for the example questions range from 31–123 words long, with most falling between 50 and 75 words.

There will be a 10-minute break between the RW section and the Math section.

Then, each module in Math will contain 22 questions (including 2 unscored “pretest” questions, mixed in, just as they are in Reading and Writing). Since the modules are each 35 minutes long, that means students will have an average of 1 minute, 35 seconds per question. That’s about 8 seconds more per question than students currently have on the paper SAT’s Math Calculator section, and it’s a significant 20 seconds longer per question than they have in the paper test’s No Calculator section.

The rumors were all true.

Yes, all of the rumors we previously speculated about are true:

  • The RW section will now include questions on poetry.
  • There are still Reading questions that require you to compare two separate texts.
  • There are more vocabulary questions than on the paper SAT.
  • Math is largely unchanged, except that story problems, on average, are slightly shorter.

But that's just the start.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg-sized document release. Right now, you can check out the new documents for yourself on the College Board’s website.

In the coming days and weeks, check back here for additional overviews and deep dives into everything new, including more changes to the RW section (new question types, a new easy-to-hard organization for the questions), new insights into the digital test’s design process, and more of what all of these changes mean for students, families, and educators.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Jordan Browne

About Jordan Browne

In addition to graduating summa cum laude from Emerson College and holding an M.F.A. from Columbia University, Jordan was a Fulbright scholar to Montenegro, where he taught seven courses for the University of Montenegro. Along with teaching writing, rhetoric, and literature at the college level, Jordan has taught test prep for several years in New York public schools and across three continents. Ever since he was young, he’s been the weird one who actually enjoys standardized tests, and, for several years now, he’s taught students of every skill level and background how to like them too—or, at least, how to get the scores they need.

You also might like: