High School 2 College

May 1, 2023

The Digital SAT is Coming: What Does It Mean for You?

Filed under: SAT,Testing,ACT,College prep,PSAT,Advice for 10th graders,vocabulary — highschool2college @ 3:25 am

The College Board completely revamped the SAT in 2015. It changed the test entirely in nearly every way. Why? More and more students were taking the ACT as a college entrance exam, and fewer and fewer were taking the SAT. By about 2010, more students were taking the ACT than the SAT nationwide. So the College Board completely redesigned the SAT to mimic the popular ACT format.

But now, perhaps because the new format didn’t make the SAT more popular or perhaps because the pandemic shut down so many testing sites, the College Board is redoing the SAT yet again. The SAT is going digital. Starting with the PSAT in October, high school juniors will take an all-digital test at school or at a testing site on their laptops. The SAT itself will be digital starting in the spring of 2024 (it hasn’t yet been announced whether it will start in March, May, or June), so this change directly affects students who are sophomores in the 2022-2023 school year.

How will the digital test be different? The good news is that it will be an hour shorter than the current SAT and students can use a calculator throughout the math section. Reading selections will be substantially shorter. The bad news is that the test will be adaptive, which will make it much harder to prepare for. Each section will get progressively harder based on how the student did on the previous section. So there won’t be a string of “easy” questions to help students ease into the test. The better the student does on initial questions, the harder the next section will be. And vocabulary is back: the new digital SAT (called dSAT) is heavy on grammar and vocabulary.

After spring of 2024, there will be no paper SAT. You can take the digital SAT, the paper ACT, both, or neither.

So what should sophomores do? By all means, take the digital PSAT to see how they do and whether they like the new format. But the savvy sophomore should also prepare in the fall to take a paper SAT of the current format in November or December of their junior year. Most colleges will be willing and able to superscore between the paper test and the digital test. That means if you do better on the paper math but better on the digital reading and grammar, most colleges will take the highest score in each category.

Many sophomores can avoid the new test completely by taking the ACT instead. The ACT is accepted by all colleges and universities in the United States, and is given equal weight with the SAT. I know that when many parents were in high school, no one took the ACT, and the more selective colleges demanded the SAT, but things have changed. Because of the 2015 redesign of the SAT, the paper SAT and the ACT (still paper) are nearly identical. Yes, the ACT reading is easier than the SAT reading and the math is harder because students have less time per question, but the ACT does let the student use a calculator throughout the test, and the reading is indeed easier. Just like the current paper SAT (but unlike the new digital SAT), the ACT doesn’t test vocabulary.

If you have more questions, I’m happy to discuss the best path forward for any individual student based on that students strengths and goals. Email me at wbsegal@gmail.com or through my website: http://www.wendysegaltutoring.com.

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