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    The Digital SAT: Everything You Need to Know

    Cait Williams By Cait Williams
    Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole
    Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger
    Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Posted: March 5th, 2024
    Smiling students take the digital SAT

    If you’ve ever wondered why the SAT doesn’t have a digital form yet, you can stop wondering because they have finally decided to go digital! In this article we’ll break down what the digital format of the SAT looks like, what’s new and what’s staying the same. So, let’s go! 

    Registering for the SAT

    Let’s start at the beginning of the whole process. Your first step when taking the SAT will be to register for it. Nothing much has changed in this part of the process, so you should be all set to select an SAT date and complete registration as normal through the SAT website. Your school may also offer the test during school hours, which you may be required to take. A school counselor or teacher should inform you of all the necessary information you need for that process. 

    Also see: ACT vs. SAT: How to decide which test to take

    What’s new


    While the paper SAT used to take around 3 hours, the new digital format takes only 2 hours and 14 minutes. The additional essay section still takes an additional 50 minutes, though that is only necessary in certain states. 

    Flow of questions

    The flow of questions on the digital SAT will be a bit different than it was before. On the written exam students would complete questions in the order they appeared in  the test booklet. However, on the digital version of the test, questions will adapt to the student. Adaptive testing  means that as students get questions right, they will become harder. If students begin to miss the harder questions, the questions will adapt and become easier again. In other words, students testing at the same time will not necessarily be answering the same questions. 


    While the overall score of the exam will still be the same, not every question will be worth the same number of points. As questions become harder, they will be worth more points. Wrong answers will still not count against you, which is why you should answer every question!


    The new digital format of the SAT is broken down in a much simpler format than before. The whole test will contain only 98 questions, as opposed to 154, and will be broken down as follows in the chart below. 

    Reading and WritingMath
    Time allotted (Minutes)64 (two 32 minute sections)70 ( two 35 minute sections)
    Number of questions5444


    A big change to the SAT is that students can now use a calculator on the whole math section. The SAT previously only let students use a calculator on a specific portion of the math exam. However, just because students can now use a calculator on the whole math test does not mean that every question will become easier as not all questions will be able to be plugged into a calculator easily. 

    Don’t miss: What is an SAT superscore?

    Testing devices

    Borrowing a device

    The SAT knows that because they are switching to a digital format, this may impose a barrier to students who don’t have access to reliable devices to take the test. In order to relieve this issue, the College Board has a system through which students can rent a device. 

    Borrowing a device will be an option that students can select when they are registering for an SAT date. Devices that are registered for will be available at the test centers the day of the test for students. 

    Using your own device

    If you plan to use your own device for the SAT digital test, you are permitted to do that as long as your device meets a few requirements. Students will also need to download an application called Bluebook in order to take the test.

    In school exams

    If you are taking an exam in school, then your school should handle the device requirement for you. 

    Score availability

    Unfortunately, just because the SAT is digital now does not mean that you’ll be able to view your scores any sooner. You should be able to find a score release date on the College Board website that coincides with your test date. It’s important to note that the College Board will send your scores to the colleges you chose ten days after your score is released. 

    Also see: Average SAT score by state

    So, what does all this mean for students?

    While it looks like the SAT has made quite a few changes, they are largely logistical and won’t actually affect you as a student much. Students can still study and prepare for the test in the same way, sign up online, or attend a test at their school and receive scores the same way. 

    SAT test accommodations

    The paper SAT will no longer be available. However, the College Board is still willing to accommodate students with learning differences. If you require accommodations you can register for them online. You can also speak with someone at your school if they will be administering the test on a mandatory in school test day.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • The digital SAT has moved to a digital format and will no longer be available to students in the written format unless specific accommodations are required
    • Things that have changed on the test include the amount of time you have to take the test, how the test is broken up, when you can use a calculator and the flow of questions you’ll receive
    • Individuals can borrow a device, as well as use their own on the actual exam day, or they can count on their school to provide devices on required in school test days
    • While many things are changing on the SAT, none of these changes should affect students in a negative way

    Frequently asked questions about the digital SAT

    Is the digital SAT harder?

    No, the digital SAT is not designed to be harder. However, if you have taken the paper SAT and then taken the digital SAT, the test may seem harder. This is because the digital SAT is an adaptive test, whereas the paper test was not. As an adaptive test the questions will become harder as you get questions right. So, if you feel the test becoming harder, it may actually be a good sign that you are getting questions correct!

    How do you practice for the digital SAT?

    Luckily for students, the digital SAT doesn’t mean you need to study in any different ways.  It would be advisable, however, to take practice tests that are online to get used to the online format. While taking the test online shouldn’t affect your score, and likely is not the first test you’ve had to take online, it’s always good to be prepared!

    What is a good digital SAT score?

    This question is hard to answer with just one number. A good score for one student may be a 1300, but a good score for someone else might be 1100. There is a big jump between those scores, but both might be viewed favorably by each student. Before you take the SAT do some practice tests to try and see where your score is falling. Remember that you can always take the SAT again and attempt to improve your score.

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