Prepping for the digital SAT, but you’ve run out of practice material? We've got you covered.
By now it's old news that the SAT is switching from paper to digital. For international students, the test went digital this March. For US students, the last paper-based test will be this coming December. If you're a student who's already preparing for the digital SAT, you’ve almost certainly run into a problem: since the digital SAT is brand new, there just isn’t much prep material out there.
So far, there are only four official practice tests, which the College Board made available last fall through its Bluebook testing app. Yes, the College Board has promised that more practice tests are coming later this year—but even when additional tests are made available, for the foreseeable future, there will still be far fewer high-quality practice materials for the digital SAT than there are for the paper SAT. That's why—if you're just starting to prep for the digital SAT—we advise you carefully ration these official practice tests so that you can get the most out of them.
But what if it’s too late? What if you’ve already used up the available practice tests?
No problem. Here are 6 ways you can keep prepping for the digital SAT, even after you've used the available practice tests.
1. Retake the Bluebook tests for their alternative second modules
Just like the real digital SAT, the official practice tests available through Bluebook are multi-stage adaptive. This means that, in each test section, how well you do on the first module determines how difficult the second module will be and how many points its questions will be worth. After each section's first module, there are two possible second modules—one that's higher difficulty and one that's lower difficulty. If you get enough questions right on the first module, you’ll get the higher-difficulty second module where the questions are worth more points. Conversely, if you miss too many questions on the first module, you’ll get the lower-difficulty second module where the questions are worth fewer points.
Because your testing performance changes which second module you'll see, if you’ve only taken a Bluebook test once, then you’ve only seen about two-thirds of its questions. To see the rest of the questions, take the test again. This time, answer all the first-module questions incorrectly to guarantee you'll get the lower-difficulty second module, or use the answer key to quickly answer every first-module question right and guarantee you'll see the higher-difficulty second module. Since there are two questions that repeat between the lower and higher difficulty second modules, you'll get 25 more Reading & Writing questions and 20 more Math questions out of every Bluebook test.
2. Practice with Khan Academy
Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to produce official practice for the digital SAT. Compared to Khan Academy's SAT practice material, the available content is still somewhat limited, but they’ve vowed to continue to add to this material and add hundreds of official practice questions, plus lessons and explanatory videos, as we get closer to the digital SAT’s launch in the US.
3. Selectively use the linear (nonadaptive) tests
These tests are paper-based versions of the digital SAT, designed for students whose testing accommodations allow them to test with a paper exam rather than a digital. While the linear tests mostly reuse questions from the Bluebook tests, there are some unique questions scattered throughout.
By combing through these tests, our curriculum team has determined that 128 questions—17% of the Reading & Writing and 38% of the Math—are unique to these linear tests. Added to this are a handful of other practice questions that the College Board has released here and there, including 33 unique sample questions and 15 questions included in the Bluebook app's Test Preview Tool.
ArborBridge tutors selectively incorporate these practice questions into their students’ prep at the moments we’ve calculated the questions will make the biggest impact, reinforcing the skills and strategies that each student is already learning.
A word of caution: the questions in the linear tests significantly overlap with those in the Bluebook tests, and each linear test contains a mix of questions from all four adaptive Bluebook tests, so if you're prepping on your own, do not take any of the linear tests until after you’ve exhausted the Bluebook tests.
4. Use 3rd-party materials
To supplement the material released by the College Board, ArborBridge has written over 300 lessons—which collectively include more than 5,000 questions on the concepts, question types, and strategies that students need to master for the digital SAT.
We’ve also designed our own digital SAT practice tests. Just like the official tests, our tests are multi-stage adaptive, and our students take these tests using a testing interface that mirrors the functionality and Desmos-calculator integration of the real test.
These digital SAT practice tests and lessons are available exclusively for ArborBridge students. Click here for more information about working with one of our digital SAT tutors.
5. Practice with old, old SATs
The digital SAT’s Reading and Writing section has changed significantly from the equivalent sections of the most recent paper-based SATs. But a couple of the new question and passage types aren’t as new as they may initially seem.
The Verbal sections of SATs released prior to 2016 had two question types that have been revived (with slight changes) for the digital SAT: vocabulary and short reading passages that have just a single question attached to them. Because these "new" question types are fairly similar to these nearly decade-old questions, pre-2016 SATs will make for good practice. You can find these tests in old editions of prep books; they're also widely available on the internet, just a Google search away.
In addition to resurrecting certain old question types, the digital SAT has also diversified the passages you’ll see, adding poetry and plays into the mix. But, again, these also aren’t completely new. You can find similar passage types and questions in old SAT II Literature exams.
6. Work with a tutor
Even with these additional resources to prep, the hard truth is that high-quality practice material for the digital SAT is still limited. Prepping on your own, if you’re not careful, you could easily find yourself in a situation where you’ve exhausted the available practice material but still haven’t hit your target score.
This is where a tutor can help.
At ArborBridge, our tutors have years of experience tutoring students for similarly adaptive tests, such as the GRE and GMAT. We’ve also been helping international students prepare for the digital SAT since the pilot test dates in 2022.
Even though the digital SAT is new, our team already knows it inside and out, and we know how to help you get the most out of the prep material available.
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, or want to start working with a tutor who specializes in the digital SAT, reach out to us here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
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.