SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Is the PSAT on Paper or Computer for 2023?


If you’ve heard the news that the SAT is transitioning to a totally digital format by 2024, you might be wondering how that will affect other exams, like the PSAT. Is the PSAT on paper or computer these days? Will the PSAT format change this year? 

In 2023, the PSAT format will change over from a paper exam to a fully digital test. To help you get a handle on what those changes mean for you, we’ll cover the following in this article: 

  • How the PSAT format will change from paper to digital
  • Five ways that the digital PSAT will be different from the paper exam
  • Three tips for preparing for the new digital PSAT

Let’s get started!



Is the PSAT on Paper or Computer 2023? 

Starting in Fall 2023, all students who take the PSAT will take the exam in a digital format instead of on paper. 

But is the PSAT online or on paper in 2024? It turns out that the switch to a digital PSAT is a permanent change. Starting with the Fall 2023 exams, the paper version of the PSAT will no longer be offered and all PSATs will be administered in a digital format. 

There is one exception to this, though: the PSAT 10 will not switch to a digital format until 2024. To help you get a handle on the timeline for all these changes to the PSAT, check out the table below:

PSAT Change
Fall 2023
PSAT 8/9 goes digital; paper format no longer offered
Fall 2023
PSAT/NMSQT goes digital; paper format no longer offered
Spring 2024
PSAT 10 goes digital; paper format no longer offered

Source: The College Board

If you’re a junior in high school in Fall 2023, taking the PSAT in the new digital format will help you prep for the SAT. Starting in Spring 2024, all students will take a digital version of the SAT too! 



Is the PSAT Online or on Paper? 5 Changes to the Exam

The switch to a digital PSAT will involve more changes than just ditching your pencil and paper booklet! There are a few ways that the digital PSAT will be different from the paper exam. We’ll break down five of those changes below. 


Change #1: The PSAT Will Be Taken on a Digital Device

As you might have guessed, the digital PSAT will be administered on a digital device instead of in a paper booklet. You’ll have the option to take the exam at your school or a testing center using your own laptop (Windows or MacOS), iPad, school-owned desktop or laptop, or a school-managed Chromebook.

To access your PSAT exam, you’ll download College Board’s customized digital application, called Bluebook, to the device you’re using to take the test. You’ll download the Bluebook app ahead of test day so you have time to get familiar with it before you take the exam! 

On exam day, you’ll access, complete, and submit the PSAT completely online through the Bluebook app. 


Change #2: The Digital PSAT Will Be Shorter

The digital PSAT will be 2 hours and 14 minutes long, making it a half hour shorter than the paper PSAT.

Since the digital PSAT will be shorter, it will also have fewer questions than the paper PSAT. The digital PSAT will consist of 98 questions total, whereas the paper PSAT consists of 139 questions. 

Here’s a full breakdown of the total number of questions and timing of the digital PSAT

Section Name
Module 1 Length
Module 2 Length
Total Section Length
Total Number of Questions
Reading and Writing
32 minutes
32 minutes
64 minutes
54 questions
35 minutes
35 minutes
70 minutes
44 questions



Change #3: PSAT Sections Are Now Called Modules

The paper version of the PSAT consisted of four sections total: reading, writing, math with calculator, and math with no calculator. The digital version of the PSAT will also have four sections, except now they’re called modules. 

The Reading and Writing section of the PSAT will include two modules, and the Math section will include two modules. That’s four total modules on the PSAT! 

Each module will be timed individually and you’ll be required to complete the first module in each section before you can move on to the next module. The two Reading and Writing modules will last for 32 minutes each, and the two Math modules will last for 35 minutes each. 


Change #4: The Digital PSAT Uses New Content to Test the Same Skills

With all of these changes, you might be wondering if the digital PSAT will test you on the same skills using the same content as the paper PSAT. The digital PSAT will measure the same skills and knowledge as the paper PSAT, but the content that the exam uses to test you on those skills will look a little different!

In general, questions on the digital PSAT will be more direct and focused on measuring the skills and knowledge that you need for college and career readiness. This means that the questions you encounter on the exam may be shorter, more concise, and more focused on assessing the core skills you need to succeed in the future!

On the Reading and Writing section of the digital PSAT, students will be given shorter reading passages that are tied to a single question. The paper PSAT gave students longer reading passages and sets of multiple questions to answer for each passage. 

On the digital PSAT Math section, word problems will be shorter and more direct as well. You’ll also be able to use a calculator on both sections! This is a change from the paper PSAT, which included a no calculator policy for one of the math sections. 

The digital PSAT will also use a new system called adaptive testing to assess students’ skills more efficiently. With adaptive testing, the difficulty level of exam questions changes based on each question that a test taker gets right or wrong. 

Here’s how adaptive testing will work on the PSAT. The first module will consist of a variety of easy, medium, and hard questions. The difficulty of the second module will be determined by your performance on the first module. This means that the second module on both sections will be either easier or harder than the first module!  


Change #5: PSAT Scoring

Just like the paper PSAT, the digital PSAT will still be scored on a 1520 scale in 10 point intervals. Digital PSAT scores will still mean the same thing as paper PSAT scores, and they’ll still be used to determine National Merit eligibility as well. 

At this point, we don’t know a lot about whether the way that PSAT scores are calculated will change. We do know that the digital SAT will calculate scores differently than the paper SAT. Here’s how: digital SAT scores will be calculated based on the difficulty level of questions students are given and the number of questions they get correct.

Because the changes to the format, length, and content of the PSAT are almost identical to the changes to the SAT, it’s pretty likely that digital PSAT scores will be calculated the same way as the digital SAT. We’ll continue to update our articles across our website as we learn more!




Is the PSAT Online or on Paper? 3 Tips for the New Exam Format

Since the PSAT format is changing, you’ll need to change your PSAT prep routine a bit too! Keep reading for three tips on how to prep for success on the new digital PSAT.


Tip 1: Get Familiar With Your Digital Device and the Testing App

About a week before your PSAT exam, you’ll need to set up your digital device with everything you need to take the exam. That way you won’t have to mess with all that technical stuff on exam day!

First, you can use College Board’s instructions to make sure your device is up to date. Next, you’ll download the Bluebook app to your device. From there, you can use Bluebook’s exam preview to get a taste of what the real PSAT will be like! You’ll get a feel for the digital exam experience and practice answering exam questions in real-time.


Tip 2: Use Quality Digital Study Resources

Since the PSAT is going digital, it’s a good idea to work plenty of digital study resources—especially practice exams—into your study plan

Because the PSAT is really similar to the SAT, College Board recommends taking practice SATs online through Khan Academy. You’ll get your scores right after the exam, and you can use your results to set a goal score for the real exam!


Tip 3: Plan a Solid Study Routine

The PSAT is a stepping stone to scholarships, awards, and a good score on the SAT. In order to earn your best scores, you’ll need to plan out a study routine—and stick to it!

Creating a study plan that you work through over several weeks or months will help you improve on your weaker areas. And spreading your prep out over a longer timeline gives you the best chance of earning a higher score on the digital PSAT!




What's Next? 

If you're ready to start prepping for the PSAT, a great place to start is by taking a PSAT practice test. That way, you'll know where you currently stand...and you can track your progress. 

Once you finish your practice test, it's time to figure out where you rank in terms of national scorers. That way you know what PSAT score you need to earn to reach your goals. 

Once you have your goal score set, you can get serious about your PSAT prep. Our free, five-step PSAT prep guide will ensure you start your journey on the right foot.



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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

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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