What is the new digital SAT and what to expect?

The SAT is a standardized test comparable to Indian entrance exams like JEE and CUET and is used by most colleges and universities in the US and many other countries, including India, to make admissions decisions in their undergraduate/undergraduate courses. Of the more than one million test-takers worldwide, Indian students form a significant cohort, with about 25,000 of them taking the SAT each year.

The next SAT exam is December 3, 2022, with a registration deadline of November 3, 2022. This exam date is very important, as this is the last pen-and-paper-based SAT . Starting in 2023, the SAT will be conducted in digital format or the digital SAT or DSAT, the first test of which is scheduled for March 11, 2023.

A good SAT score is critical for the college to consider for scholarships, but it is not the only criterion. The general profile of the student, academic merits, achievements, etc. all combined with SAT help the student to get the scholarship. One has a chance to get even a full scholarship depending on the overall profile.

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The SAT can feel quite intimidating to many students, especially since it plays a pivotal role in their future. However, if they prepare for it in the right way, with the right resources and guidance, it really doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is perceived to be.

To make the SAT the best possible choice for students, starting in 2023, the SAT Assessment Suite will be offered digitally. When students take the digital SAT, it won’t simply be a digital version of the current paper-and-pencil test. It will be a better and more flexible test, easier to do, easier to do, safer and more relevant.

Easier to take

The digital SAT tests are:

– Approximately 1 hour less

— Pre- and post-test activities and administrative time have been reduced

— The digital SAT can be taken on a wide range of devices

— The tests are concise and focused

— The test includes numerous tools, such as a built-in graphing calculator, as well as the ability to annotate and mark questions.

Easier to give

In digital format:

— There will be no more shipping, packing, unpacking and distribution of test materials

— The test will have fewer sections timed separately

— The timing and administration of the tests will be managed by the testing platform and not by an invigilator

— The test delivery platform will tolerate momentary interruptions in connectivity (either network or battery related) without losing students’ work or time.

— Students who experience brief interruptions due to connectivity can quickly resume without wasting testing time

— If students completely run out of device batteries during testing, they can simply log in, restart, and resume testing without losing testing time or work.

— The test platform automatically saves the answers.

more secure

— Custom delivery platform only shows one question

— The copy of test content is almost zero

— Students who copy from their test neighbors are greatly reduced (although this is a remote possibility).

More relevant

With digital tests:

— The number and variety of contexts used as a basis for test questions has been greatly increased

— There are many more opportunities for tests to represent the diversity of people, experiences and interests around the world

— The chances that students will come across passages on test day that they find personally meaningful and interesting are greatly increased.

What remains the same in DSAT

— DSAT will continue to measure student knowledge and skills that are most important to college and career readiness

— The scores will remain on the same scale of 1600

— The test must be taken at school or in a testing center

— Free practice resources will be available to everyone

— Students will continue to connect directly to scholarships

What’s changing at DSAT

— The test must be done on a laptop or tablet

— The test will now be multi-stage adaptive to fairly and accurately measure the same things with a shorter test that preserves test reliability.

— Suite assessments are substantially shorter lasting 2 hours 14 minutes instead of 3 hours

— Test takers will have more time, on average, to answer each question

— Students will receive scores faster in days instead of weeks

The test will be more secure. It provides each student with a highly comparable yet unique test form

— There will be more flexibility to administer tests digitally in the SAT suite

DSAT multistage adaptive model

In this model, each section of the test (Reading and Writing; Mathematics) is divided into two stages of the same duration and timed separately and each will have a module of questions. Students will start by answering questions in the first module which will contain a mix of easy, medium and difficult questions. The questions that appear in the second module are largely dependent on the student’s level of achievement and performance in the first module. The questions would have a higher or lower order of difficulty in the second module than in the first. The test is adapted to present questions that depend on the student’s level of performance in the first module.

Section level changes

Reading and writing

— There will be a single reading and writing section instead of separate reading, writing and language tests

— The reading and writing sections will include many shorter texts rather than some long texts, and students will see a wider range of topics that represent works they read in college.

— A single discrete question is associated with each passage or pair of passages.


— Calculators are allowed throughout the math section compared to the non-calculator sections of the pen-paper SAT

— Students can bring their own calculators (for passing) or they can make use of the graphing calculator built right into the testing application

— The average duration of questions in context has been reduced.

Digital SAT implementation timeline

The transition from paper and pencil to digital in international testing centers in spring 2023 and in US schools and testing centers in spring 2024.

Application of digital tests

The Digital SAT Suite application will be administered in the College Board’s custom digital testing application. The digital application has many tools for students including:

— Mark for Review: Students can mark and return to any question within a given test module that they wish to return to later.

— Test Timer: A clock counts down the time remaining in each module. Students can hide the timer and receive an alert when 5 minutes are left in the module.

— Calculator: A built-in graphing calculator is available throughout the math section. (Students may also bring their own approved calculator.)

— Reference sheet: in the Mathematics section, students have access to a list of common formulas.

— Annotation: Students can highlight any part of a question and leave a note.

(The author is the founder and MD of Manya Education, The Princeton Review India)

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