The New Digital SAT: Here’s What To Expect


This spring, just like every spring, high school juniors across the U.S. will be sitting down to take their SAT. However, this year, for the first time ever, the SAT will be administered in a completely digital format. 

When is the SAT going digital?

In 2021, College Board (the nonprofit organization behind the SAT and PSAT programs) announced they were launching a digital SAT pilot project. Quickly following the success of this project, College Board announced they would be gradually transitioning to an all-digital testing format. The digital SAT was administered to all international students (students taking the test outside the United States or its territories) starting in March 2023. All students (international and within the US) will take the digital SAT starting in spring 2024.

Why is the SAT going digital?

The digital SAT is the result of years of research, design, and development

When discussing the switch, College Board notes that the digital format is easier for students to take, easier to administer, and “more relevant.” The digital SAT pilot program was also a resounding success. According to College Board, 80% of students found it to be less stressful, and 100% of educators reported having had a positive experience.

Additionally, the College Board’s Digital SAT Pilot Predictive Validity Study found that digital SAT scores are as predictive of college performance as paper and pencil SAT scores, meaning they provide valuable insights into students’ readiness for college. 

This move to a digital format brings the SAT in line with other standardized tests. The PSAT, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, VACT, etc. have all gone digital. 

How is the digital SAT different? 

With their switch to a digital SAT, College Board intends to take full advantage of what digital delivery makes possible. When looking at the digital SAT vs. the paper SAT, here are the most notable changes: 


The most obvious difference between the new SAT and the old SAT is that the new one will be administered on a digital device (laptop or tablet) through a new digital testing application called Bluebook. The old SAT was administered with a pencil and paper. 


The digital SAT will be shorter than the paper SAT. The digital SAT is 2 hours and 14 minutes (2 hours and 24 minutes with the break). The paper SAT clocked in at 3 hours (3 hours and 15 minutes with breaks). However, the shorter time does not mean students will have to rush. They will actually have more time per question. 


The digital SAT has fewer questions and one less section than the paper SAT. The paper SAT consisted of 154 multiple-choice questions across three sections: (1) Reading, (2) Writing & Language, and (3) Math. The digital SAT will have a total of 98 questions across two sections: (1) Reading & Writing and (2) Math.


A noteworthy difference between the new SAT and the old SAT is that the new SAT will be adaptive. Each of the sections mentioned above is divided into two equal-length modules. The first module of each section contains a broad mix of easy, medium, and hard questions. How students perform on the first module will dictate the second module of questions — triggering the software to provide a second module that is either more difficult or less difficult. This means that every test taker will get a different exam. To achieve the highest score on the digital SAT, test takers must reach Module 2 for both sections. Failure to make it to the harder version of Module 2 results in a lower maximum score. 

Sample digital SAT structure

The old SAT was not adaptive.  


It used to take weeks for students to receive their SAT results. With the new digital SAT, students and educators will get official score reports much more quickly — likely within just a few days of taking the exam.


Students will be able to take the digital SAT on their own laptop or tablet or on a school-issued laptop or tablet. Test takers can still bring graphing calculators to use, and unlike with the paper SAT, they can use the calculators for the entire math section. 

Is the digital SAT fair? 

The digital SAT is just as fair, if not fairer, than the paper SAT. First, there is a reduced risk of cheating as students testing together will encounter different versions of the test, even on the first page. Plus, students can start their tests at different times, even if they are at the same testing site. This reduces the risk of students sharing answers. 

The College Board has also implemented some anti-cheating measures, including: 

  • Requiring test takers to submit a photo of themselves
  • Requiring test takers to present a photo ID on test day
  • Requiring test takers to sign an anti-cheating agreement
  • Prohibiting the use of electronic devices 
  • Administering the test in a locked-down app which means students will not be able to open other applications while testing

Another consideration in regard to fairness is ensuring all test takers have equal opportunities to demonstrate their readiness for college. To achieve this goal, College Board makes accommodations available for students with documented disabilities or medical conditions.

Available accommodations include: 

  • Extended time
  • Additional and/or extended breaks
  • Large-print
  • Assistive technology

If necessary, students who are unable to use screens may request access to a pencil-and-paper version of the Digital SAT.

Is the digital SAT secure? 

The new SAT is more secure than the old SAT. With questions transferred digitally, there is no risk of early access or of questions being spread around before the test day. No more locked drawers or sealed booklets necessary. 

How much does the digital SAT cost?

The digital SAT costs the same as the paper SAT, with a registration fee of $60. College Board wants to ensure an easy transition to the digital SAT, so no new or additional fees have been added. Plus, students eligible for fee waivers will continue to receive their full set of benefits.

What is the best way to prepare for the digital SAT?

The SAT is directly tied to what students are learning in the classroom, so the best way to prepare for the digital SAT is to ensure students have mastered the classroom material. The next best way to prepare is to practice, practice, practice. 

If you’re looking for the best way to improve SAT scores, consider high-impact tutoring. FEV’s high-impact tutoring programs target students’ learning gaps, accelerating each child’s learning and getting them up to grade level more quickly. On top of our core program, we also offer test prep sessions that are specifically focused on preparing students in 10th & 11th grades for the ACT and SAT. 

Interested in learning more?

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