Major changes to the SAT are coming. Beginning next year, the exam will shift to a digital format and shrink to about two hours in length. The College Board is presenting these as student-friendly changes, with Priscilla Rodriguez (vice president of College Readiness Assessments at the College Board) saying, "The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant."
The shorter, digital SAT will go live in 2023 and 2024:
- March 2023: International test centers will begin administering the digital SAT.
- Fall 2023: All test centers will administer the digital PSAT.
- March 2024: Test centers in the U.S. will begin administering the digital SAT.
Here's what we know so far and what these changes mean for students.
- The test will last for about two hours (shrinking by one hour).
- Students will also have more time per question. In fact, we're hearing that during pilot tests, students have finished with around five minutes to spare at the end of each section.
- There will be two sections—a Reading & Writing section and a Math section—instead of four.
- Reading passages will be shorter, and students will answer only one question per passage.
- Students will have more time per question.
- Students will no longer receive separate Reading and Writing subscores.
- Students will take the test on a laptop or tablet.
- A digital testing app will need to be downloaded before test day. The digital testing app should save students' progress while they work, even if they lose internet access or their computer crashes. During pilot tests, a small number of students have lost power, but all students have ultimately been able to submit their exams.
- Students will have access to a series of tools through the digital testing app, including a timer, a calculator, a reference sheet, and a flagging tool to mark questions for review.
- Students' devices should be fully charged in advance. Test centers are not obligated to provide power to every student (only those with extended time), and students will not be able to see their battery percentage while in the digital testing app.
- Students can use a calculator on the entire Math section. Students can bring their own or use the one built into the testing app. We recommend that students plan to bring their own and practice with that calculator in preparation for test day.
- The test will be adaptive. Each section will begin with an introductory module. A student's performance on that first set of questions will determine the difficulty level of the subsequent questions they see.
- Scores will be released sooner. Students will receive their scores in days instead of weeks.
- There will be more test dates for international students. In 2023, the College Board will add two international test dates to the calendar, matching the number of administrations offered to students in the U.S.
What's staying the same?
Some aspects of the SAT will remain the same.
- Students will take the test at a school or test center, not at home.
- Scores will be out of 1600. Each section (Reading & Writing and Math) will be scored on an 800-point scale. The College Board and ACT have no plans to update their concordance table. They plan to ensure scores continue to align the way they do now.
- Both sections will feature multiple-choice questions. The Math section will also include questions that students must answer by entering their solutions directly into the app.
- Accommodations will be available to students who need them. This includes paper testing for accommodations that cannot be supported digitally.
What does this mean for students?
Students planning to take the SAT in 2022 should stick to their current test prep plans. Nothing is changing for international or domestic test-takers this year.
International students planning to test in 2023 and domestic students planning to test in 2024 should stay tuned for further updates.
- Talk to your college counselor to start planning ahead. Your counselor has the best understanding of your unique situation in the context of your target colleges and universities, goal scores, and other factors. See more information here.
- In late summer or early fall, the College Board will share more information about new practice resources. The plan is for digital practice material and four full-length practice tests to become available through the exam application and Khan Academy in fall 2022.
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.
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