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The Digital SAT: the 2024 Digital SAT Format Explained

a stack of SAT study books

Beyoncé isn’t the only one changing things up this spring. The College Board, the arbiter of college admission in this country, has drastically changed not only the format of the SAT but also how it is administered and scored. 

Students will take an all-digital, shorter, streamlined SAT for the first time in 2024.

How is the digital SAT format different? 

Students will be sitting down to take the SAT, not on paper with their trusty #2 Ticonderoga but on laptops and iPads. The technology involved will differ depending on the school district in which you take the test. 

This change will allow tests to be scored more quickly, resulting in faster results and drastically reducing the incredible amount of paper, shipping costs, and random scoring errors that come with physical tests.

Students will also have a dramatically different testing experience with a few key changes to the format, content, and adaptive testing feature of the new 2024 SAT. 

Is the digital SAT easier?

The digital SAT could be easier for some students. The test is nearly an hour shorter, going from a whopping 3 hours and 15 minutes in previous years to 2 hours and 14 minutes in this year’s test. 

The test is divided into two main sections: a 64-minute reading and writing exam with roughly 50 questions and a second 80-minute math section with roughly 40 questions. 

For the first time, you can use a calculator (a digital calculator is included in the testing software) on all parts of the math section. The 2024 SAT has nearly 40 fewer questions than previous tests.

The really dramatic change to the test, and one that could only be accomplished on a digital platform, is the new adaptive testing feature of the exam. Basically, the test individualizes itself as students move through the different modules. 

For example, if a student does very well on module 1 of the reading portion of the test, they will be given more difficult questions for module 2. If they don’t do so well, they will be given easier questions. This change dramatically changes how the exam is scored and can influence how difficult or easy the test might feel to you. 

How is the digital SAT scored?

With adaptive testing comes adaptive scoring. Students who do well in module 1 will be given more difficult questions in module 2, and these questions will be given more weight than easier questions. 

Students who do well enough to receive the more difficult questions must answer fewer questions correctly to earn a higher score. This means that students may answer fewer questions correctly and earn the same or higher score than other students who answer more of the easier questions correctly. 

What is a “good” SAT score?

The actual score of the new digital SAT stays the same— sort of. The ultimate score is still out of 1600 points, but because the test is shorter—141 questions on the old paper version compared to 100 questions or so on the new digital platform—each answer “counts” for more. 

Adaptive testing and weighted questions based on difficulty make the number of correct answers needed to achieve a certain score a moving target.

The average SAT score across the nation is 1050. If a student scores a 1350 or above, they are among the country's top 10% of test-takers and have a very good chance of getting accepted into selective colleges. 

It remains to be seen what colleges will do with SAT scores considering the new adaptive nature of the test and the shift towards a more “holistic” evaluation of a student for acceptance.

So it seems College Board and the writers of the SAT have learned a few things from Beyoncé. Success largely comes from our ability to adapt. Just ask America’s test takers and the newest country music superstar.

Calculate your chances of getting into any college

As you prepare to take the new, digital SAT, you're probably wondering about the score you'll need to land admission to your dream college. That's where Appily's college admission calculator comes in. With it, you can calculate the chances of admission into any college using your academic information, like GPA and SAT score. 

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