The Digital SAT

Why is it happening?

The College Board has been giving the SAT in some form since 1926, and every version has faced some criticism, usually based on favoring groups in terms of income, ethnicity, gender, and other factors. The College Board has claimed that each of the SAT’s major revisions (in 1994 2005, and 2016) made the exam more equitable and fairer.

When is it happening?

Students are being offered optional Digital SATs as the College Board comes closer to transition, but
the Digital transition is not mandatory until Fall 2023 for the PSAT and Spring 2024 for the SAT.

Old Exam New Exam
Delivery
Taken on a paper booklet at test center
Take on laptop/tablet (student’s or school’s) at test center.
Sections
One English, One Writing, Two Math (No-calculator and Calculator)
Two Reading/Writing (mixed), Two ath (Calculator
Questions
154 (Excluding experimental questions from the 5th section
98 (Including 8 practice questions, 25 Reading/Writing questions per section, 20 Math sections per question)
Timing
Three hours of examination with two breaks
Two hours of exam with one break
Adaptivity
None
The second Reading/Writing and second Math section will adapt based on performance in the first section.
Old Exam New Exam
Reading
Analysis in Science Analysis in History/Social Studies Words in Context Command of Evidence
Craft and Structure (Vocab in Context, Structure and Purpose) Information and Ideas (Command of Evidence, Inferences, Central Ideas and Details)
Writing
Standard English Conventions, Expression of Ideas
Standard English Conventions (Form, Structure, Sense and Boundaries), Expression of Ideas (Rhetorical Synthesis, Transitions)
Math
Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Mathematics, Problem Solving and Data Analysis
Algebra (Linear Equations, Systems of Equations, etc.); “Advanced Math” (Quadratics, Equivalent Expressions); Data Analysis (Percentages, Ratios, Probability, Inferences from statistics); Geometry

What Changes Should I Expect?

The most important change to the SAT is digital delivery, whether on the student’s own laptop or on a “loaner” laptop from the host school. The next major change is that the test is adaptive, changing difficulty in the second
math and second verbal sections. The test is shortened from 3 hours to 2 hours, combining the reading and writing sections into a verbal section. The exam still has four sections and still tests the same concepts (reading comprehension, inferencing, grammar fundamentals, conventions of English language, mathematical concepts in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry).

The Reading passages transition from page-sized to 1-2 paragraphs, with only one question per passage. Poetry is now included in literature passages, but literature passages become less prevalent than the other passage types (historical, social studies, and scientific), and paired passages will still be tested.

There will be fewer writing questions, but students should expect similar content in grammar (punctuation, subject-verb agreement, modifiers, parallelism) and in context (concision, transition, etc.) with an additional focus on data analysis (eg “What conclusion best fits the given figure?”).

The math section will still have multiple-choice and student-produced response (fill-in-the-blank) questions, but word problems will be limited to fifty words or less. The older, confusing domain measures (“Heart of Algebra”) are changing to Algebra, Advanced Math, Problem-Solving and Data Analysis, and Geometry and Trigonometry… but the question types cover the same content as the current SAT.

Overall, the question count and time are decreasing, but students will now have more time per question.

How will the Digital SAT changes affect my preparation?

Pittsburgh Prep has stayed on top of the SAT’s changes since its inception and has adapted its curriculum to fit the Digital SAT since its announcement. Pittsburgh Prep has built digital test prep tools, modified its tried-and-tested curriculum, and conducted extensive research on the exam. Our instructors are seasoned instructors and content creators, and the SAT’s format changes are reflected in their work.