Understanding the Changes to the New Digital SAT
Boluo School | 2024-01-16 | 4 min read

In a significant move, the College Board has announced a major overhaul to the SAT, transforming it into a fully digital format set to take effect in 2024. In this blog post, we will delve into the technical and content changes, explore the reasons behind this shift, and provide a timeline for students to prepare accordingly.

The SAT’s New Digital Format: The most noticeable change is the shift to a digital app called Bluebook. Students will be required to download the app on approved devices, including Windows and Mac desktops, school-issued Chromebooks, and iPads with a detached keyboard. The digital SAT will still be administered in schools or testing centers, and each test-taker must bring their device, fully charged, with a charger in tow. Technical assistance will be available at testing centers to address any issues.

Accommodations: Despite the digital transition, the SAT will continue to offer accommodations for students with specific needs. Those requiring accommodations not available digitally, such as a braille test, will receive a paper test that closely resembles the current SAT format.

How Has the Digital SAT’s Content Changed? The content of the digital SAT has undergone significant updates. The test is now adaptive, with performance on the first section determining the difficulty of the next section. Scoring is also adjusted based on question difficulty, emphasizing the importance of excelling in the initial section for a chance at a perfect score.

The removal of the experimental section and the introduction of individualized test versions for each student aim to enhance test security and reduce the risk of collaboration or leaks. However, this means students won't receive a copy of their questions after the test.

Scoring: While the scoring scale remains the same (200-800 for each portion), a new scoring methodology assigns different weights to questions based on difficulty. Scores will be available much sooner, released in days rather than weeks.

Changes to Reading and Writing: Integration of the reading and writing sections is a notable change, with questions from both included in the two reading and writing sections. Passages are now shorter, and questions about graphics have been simplified. Writing questions no longer cover commonly confused words or idiomatic expressions.

Changes to Math: Students can now use a calculator on both math sections, either their own approved calculator or the built-in Desmos calculator through the Bluebook app. Questions involving imaginary and complex numbers are no longer included.

Testing Timeline: The transition to a fully digital format will be completed by 2024. Students should be aware of the changes in scheduling, staggered start times, and broader testing windows.

Why is College Board Making the SAT Digital? The shift to a digital format is largely influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of test-optional college admissions. College Board aims to maintain the relevance of the SAT in the evolving admissions landscape, citing increased accessibility, equity, and reduced stress for students.

Final Thoughts: While the SAT undergoes significant changes, the core purpose remains unchanged—to evaluate high school students' readiness for college. The new format addresses past challenges, emphasizing reliability, honesty, and improved standing. Students are encouraged to prepare for the digital SAT, recognizing that success on the test can positively impact college applications.

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