The New Digital SAT

The New Digital SAT: Pros, Cons and some FAQs

The Digital SAT has already been launched internationally and all tests administered internationally in 2023 will be taken by students on a computer. For this first year, international students will be guinea pigs as there will likely be glitches and issues that College Board, the test’s manufacturer, will have to iron out before releasing the digital test in the United States in 2024. The question is whether you wish to be among the first students trying out the SAT in this new format.

Pros of the new digital SAT include:

  • The test will be shorter by one hour—about 2 hours instead of 3 for the current SAT with shorter reading passages, some higher-level reading material which will include a minimal amount of poetry, and some vocabulary-in-context questions. Fewer reading-intensive word problems in the math section with more geometry and trigonometry questions.
  • More time is provided per question—an increase of 13.3% more time per question.
  • Immediate scoring: Students can receive their scores more quickly with the digital format, as the test can be graded electronically.
  • Improved accessibility: With the digital format, the SAT can be taken by students with disabilities who require accommodation, such as a larger font or audio support.
  • Two additional test dates have been added to international administrations of the test to equal what is offered in the US.
  • Some key features are the ability to annotate, a countdown clock, a built-in calculator, an answer eliminator, and the ability to flag questions for later review (within each section).
  • The student can take the test on their own familiar laptop. There is also an option to request College Board to supply a laptop for students who don’t own a laptop.

Cons of the new digital SAT include:

  • Technical difficulties: There is a risk of technical issues arising during the test administration, such as network connectivity problems or computer malfunctions.
  • Accessibility concerns: Not all students have access to a computer or the internet, which could create disparities in test-taking opportunities.
  • Technical difficulties: There is a risk of technical issues arising during the test administration, such as network connectivity problems or computer malfunctions.
  • The new digital SAT is section-adaptive meaning that the first module of the math and English sections will have a fixed level of difficulty and a fixed score potential. Depending on the student’s performance on this baseline module, the difficulty level of the second module will increase or decrease.

Given the option to take it on paper or online, which should I choose? It’s all about a plan that works better for you so prepare for whichever type of testing works best in your case. Beginning in 2024, all US testing will be digital as well. Students can download the Bluebook digital testing app for practice.

Is there an option to cancel my SAT results? Yes, there is an option to cancel your SAT results. The College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, allows students to cancel their scores before they are released. This option can be exercised before you leave the test center by asking the test proctor to cancel that day’s test. As well, this is typically available through a student’s online College Board account within a few days of taking the test. Score recipients listed on your registration receive your scores online within 10 days after you receive your scores.

If a student decides to cancel their scores, they will not receive a score report, and the test will not be included in their college admission process. It’s important to note that once scores are canceled, they cannot be reinstated, so students should carefully consider their decision before choosing to do so.

What about the digital ACT? The ACT has been offered as a computer-based test in Canada since 2019. Some students opt to take the test digitally at a test center and others travel across the border where the test is still offered on paper.  So digital or on paper, the choice is yours for the ACT, at least for the time being. In either case, if you don’t like your ACT score, you can pay to have it erased.

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