The Educator's Guide to the Digital SAT

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The SAT suite of exams is officially switching from a paper-and-pencil format to a new, digital format in 2024. That means big changes are in store for educators and students. 

In this article, we’ll answer your questions about the digital SAT so you’ll know what to expect from the new format. We’ll cover:

  • A complete timeline for when the new digital SAT and PSAT will be implemented in schools
  • How the digital SAT and PSAT will be different in terms of content and format
  • How the digital exams will be scored, and how it’ll be different from the paper versions
  • Materials students will need to take the digital SAT and PSAT

Let’s get started!

 

Digital SAT Dates 2023-2024

For US students, the transition from paper-and-pencil to digital SAT will happen in Spring 2024. All remaining 2023 SAT exam dates for US students will be administered in the paper-and-pencil format. After that, the paper SAT will no longer be offered!

To help you get a handle on the official digital SAT exam dates, here’s a breakdown of upcoming SAT dates and their format

Test Date
Test Format
August 26, 2023
Paper 
October 7, 2023
Paper
November 4, 2023
Paper
December 2, 2023
Paper
March 9, 2024
Digital
May 4, 2024
Digital
June 1, 2024
Digital

 

As you can see in the table above, the SAT will go digital for US students beginning in Spring 2024. The last paper versions of the SAT will be administered in December 2023 for US students. All subsequent SAT exams will be given in the new, digital format. 

(Note: the SAT has already gone digital for international students. You can find a full list of digital SAT dates for international students here!).  

These changes are coming to SAT School Days, too. According to the College Board, all SAT school day exams will be administered digitally starting in spring 2024. Specific exam dates have yet to be announced by the College Board. We’ll update this post with Digital SAT School Day information as soon as it becomes available.  

 

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Bust out those bullet journals and markers, and get these dates marked on your calendars. 

 

Digital PSAT Dates 2023-2024

Starting in 2023, the PSAT exams will switch to the new digital format as well. However, the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and PSAT/NMSQT will make the transition to digital at different times. 

To get a handle on when all of these changes will happen, check out the complete timeline of digital PSAT dates below.

 

PSAT 8/9 

Last Paper Exam Date
March/April 2023
First Digital Exam Date
October 2023

 

PSAT 10

Last Paper Exam Date
February/April 2023
First Digital Exam Date
February/April 2024

 

PSAT/NMSQT

Last Paper Exam Date
October 2022
First Digital Exam Date
October 2023

 

The PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT/NMSQT will transition to the new digital format starting with Fall 2023 exam dates. That way, students who plan to take the SAT as juniors in 2024 can get acquainted with the digital testing format before they take the digital SAT. 

The PSAT 10 will transition to the digital format beginning with Spring 2024 exam dates. 

Beginning in Spring 2024, all versions of the PSAT will be administered digitally. 

 

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Change is inevitable, even in standardized testing. Here are the big differences you can expect from the DSAT. 

 

Changes to the Digital SAT 

First things first: many aspects of the digital SAT will be similar to the paper SAT. Here are several ways that the digital SAT will be like the paper SAT:  

  • It will assess the same core skills and competencies
  • It will be scored on a 1600 point scale
  • The exam will still be administered at an official testing center (no at-home testing!)
  • Approved students will still receive accommodations like extra time or assistive technology

At the same time, paper and computers have different capabilities. That means the digital testing experience will be different from the paper exam in some ways too. We’ll compare the exams below. 

 

Digital Devices Replace Pencil and Paper

With the digital SAT, students will take the exam using an approved digital device, like a laptop or tablet, instead of a paper booklet and pencils. 

When students register for the digital SAT online, they can choose to a) take the exam on a computer provided by the testing center, b) take the exam on a laptop or tablet they own or borrow from family, friends, or their school, or c) request to borrow a computer from the College Board.

Whatever digital device they use, students will need to make sure it has updated software, the ability to connect to wi-fi, and a fully charged battery. They’ll also need to download the Bluebook app from the College Board’s website. 

Students will take and submit the digital SAT using Bluebook. Check out our complete guide to learn more about digital device requirements and how to use Bluebook on the digital SAT.

 

The DSAT Change Based On Performance 

The digital SAT ditches the paper version’s three sections (consisting of Reading, Writing, and Math) in favor of two sections: Reading and Writing and Math. 

From there, the two sections of the digital SAT are each divided into two modules. On the exam, students must complete module one in each section before progressing to module two. 

After completing all of the questions in module one, the questions in module two will be adapted based on each student’s performance on module one. The digital SAT uses adaptive testing to ensure that each student answers questions that provide the best picture of their knowledge and skills. 

 

The Test Format Is Shorter 

With only two sections instead of three, the new digital exam isn’t just shorter content-wise. It also lasts for a shorter period of time!

The current pencil and paper exam lasts for approximately 3 hours. The digital SAT shortens that exam time significantly, clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes total. Since it runs for a shorter duration, the digital SAT also includes only 98 questions compared to the paper version’s 154 questions. 

But how does the digital SAT include everything it needs to adequately assess students’ college readiness if the exam is shorter? By adapting the exam content as well. Passages on the Reading and Writing section will be shorter, and students will only answer one question per passage. Questions across both exam sections will be worded more concisely, which will allow students to dedicate more time to answering each question. 

To learn more about what content will look like on the new exam, check out our ultimate guide to the digital SAT format

 

Students Get New Testing Tools

Because it’s administered on a computer or tablet, the digital SAT comes with some bells and whistles that the paper exam doesn’t have. 

Here are four tools the digital SAT includes to aid students during the exam

  • A testing timer that tells students how much time is remaining in each section of the test
  • A calculator built into the Bluebook app
  • A reference sheet with crucial math formulas for the Math section
  • A bookmark icon to flag questions that students need to come back to 

Additionally, students will be able to use the built-in graphing calculator for the entirety of the Math section of the exam. This is a change from the paper exam, which divided the Math section into a calculator and no calculator section.

 

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The PSAT will change to a digital format, too. 

 

Changes To The Digital PSAT

The digital PSAT will be similar to the paper PSAT in many ways. Like the paper PSAT, the digital PSAT will:

  • Assess the same skills and knowledge using comparable content
  • Each PSAT will be scored on the same scale as its paper equivalent
  • The exams will be administered at students’ high schools
  • Accommodations will still be provided on a case-by-case basis

While much of the PSAT exams are staying the same, there are a few differences between the paper and digital versions. The good news is that the changes to the PSAT mirror the changes that the SAT is undergoing in the transition to a digital format. We’ll cover three changes to the digital PSAT below!

 

Digital Devices Replace Pencil and Paper

Just like the new digital SAT, all PSAT exams will be administered on an approved digital device instead of a paper booklet. Students will be able to take the exam at their schools or at a testing center using a Windows or MacOS laptop or tablet. 

Students must also download the Bluebook app to their approved digital device ahead of exam day in order to access their digital PSAT. When it’s time to take the PSAT, students will access, complete, and submit their exam exclusively through Bluebook. 

 

The Digital PSAT Is Shorter and Adaptive 

The digital PSAT will be a half hour shorter than the paper PSAT, lasting for a total of 2 hours and 14 minutes. The exam will also include fewer questions than the paper PSAT, consisting of 98 total questions instead of 139. 

To make the shorter exam experience more streamlined, the digital PSAT will also use a different structure than the paper PSAT. Instead of three sections, the digital PSAT will consist of two sections: Reading and Writing and Math. 

From there, the two sections are divided into two modules for a total of four modules on the digital PSAT. Like the digital SAT, each module of the PSAT will be timed individually. Students will be required to complete the first module in each section before they can progress to the second module. 

The digital PSAT will also use adaptive testing. That means that the exam will adjust the difficulty of questions in module two based on the student’s performance on module one. This adaptive model allows the exam to provide a more accurate assessment of students’ skills and knowledge. It’s also great prep for the digital SAT, which also uses adaptive testing!

 

The Digital PSAT Uses New Content To Assess the Same Skills

The digital PSAT will assess the same skills and knowledge as the paper PSAT, but the content it uses to do that will look a little different. 

On both the Reading and Writing and Math sections, questions will be worded more concisely and directly. This allows the exam to more accurately assess the core skills and knowledge that students need for college and career readiness. 

Reading passages will also be shorter on the Reading and Writing section, and each passage will be tied to one question instead of several. On the Math section, students will be able to use a calculator on both modules instead of just one. 

 

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DSAT Scoring Guidelines 

Like the paper SAT, the digital SAT will be scored on a 1600 scale in 10 point increments. Digital SAT scores will also mean the same thing as paper SAT scores. For instance, if a student scores a 1200 on the digital SAT, it will be the equivalent of a 1200 on the paper SAT. 

Digital SAT score release will also happen more quickly than score release for the paper SAT. According to The College Board, instead of waiting two weeks, scores will be released to students and educators within days of the testing date

Score reports will still provide information about how students performed and how they can improve their scores. Unlike paper score reports, digital SAT score reports will include information about a wider range of professional and educational opportunities for students based on their interests. 

 

Digital PSAT Scoring Guidelines 

Each digital PSAT exam will be scored on the same scale as its corresponding paper PSAT exam. Here’s a breakdown of how each digital PSAT will be scored: 

  • PSAT/NMSQT: scored on a 1520 scale 
  • PSAT 10: scored on a 1520 scale 
  • PSAT 8/9: scored on a 1440 scale 

Like the digital SAT, digital PSAT scores will mean the same thing as paper PSAT scores. As part of their score report, students will receive the same information about their performance, how they can improve, and college and career readiness as well.  

 

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No need for #2 pencils here!

 

What Will Students Need To Take the Digital Exams? 

Besides a digital device, there are several other things students will need to bring with them when they take the digital SAT. Each of these items will make the testing experience go more smoothly! 

Here are the items that have been approved by the College Board for use during the SAT and PSAT:

  • Fully charged testing devices with Bluebook downloaded and set up
  • Up-to-date admission ticket (printed or digital)
  • Valid photo ID
  • Pens/pencils to make notes
  • Optional: graphing calculator for Math section (there’s also a graphing calculator embedded in the Bluebook app)

The College Board also suggests bringing a watch, a charger for the device you’ll be testing on, a bag or backpack, drinks and snacks for break time, and a back up testing device just in case. Students who need EpiPens on hand may bring them in a clear bag without approved accommodations. 

 

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What's Next? 

Want to learn more about the nuances of the new Digital SAT? We have an incredibly detailed guide that will walk you through all the DSAT changes, big and small. 

Our experts have put together a free DSAT study guide for students to help them master the new test format. You can find it here

Practice tests are the best way to get ready for the DSAT format. We've compiled a list of DSAT practice tests here

 

Need help preparing your students for the SAT? PrepScholar is the only online program scientifically designed to understand every student's strengths and weaknesses and customize exactly to their abilities. 

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About the Author
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Ashley Robinson

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.



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