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:
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.
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