The new digital SAT format – What All Has Changed and What Hasn’t?

14 April, 2024
parthiva mewawala
New digital sat format

The Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT, the world’s leading standardised test for undergraduate admissions, is undergoing a major digital transformation. Many new changes have been introduced in the digital Sat format to make the test more accessible, equitable, and less stress-inducing for college-going kids. 


Covid-19 compelled schools to reprogram their syllabi and teaching methodologies to fit the new remote learning model. By going digital, the SAT is only becoming that much more aligned with the students’ new learning format. This allows students to approach the SAT with more reassurance and confidence. 


But the question remains. 


What are the new changes? How do they affect the test-taking experience? And how can you be better prepared to capitalise on these changes?


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What has changed in the digital SAT format?

Many of the aspects remain similar between the paper version and the digital SAT format. Students will still be scored on a 400-1600 point scale to assess their reading, writing, and maths skills. But a lot of the other parts have changed. 

You’ll give the test on a computer instead of using pen and paper

The days of filling in bubbles with a pencil are going to be replaced with the click-clack of keyboards. The digital SAT is 100% computer administered. You’ll be allowed to bring your own approved WiFi-enabled devices with the Bluebook app downloaded. 


For those without their own device, there’s always the option to request the testing centre to provide you with one. 

You can use calculators for the entire maths section as opposed to just one part 

On the old paper SAT, students were only allowed to use the calculator for one part of the two part-maths section. In the digital SAT format, you’ll be able to use your approved calculator for the entire section. 


Moreover, you won’t even need to bring your own calculator. The digital SAT provides you with one right on your screen. 

Subsequent modules will adapt to your skill-level

Instead of having static questions that are common for all test-takers, the new format will include modules that will adapt to your performance. If you answer most questions right, the subsequent module will include harder questions. This doesn’t just make cheating impossible, it also gives students ample space to showcase their unique skills. 

You’ll receive your scores within a few days instead of a few weeks

Getting your scores back faster is a blessing if you’re planning on giving multiple SAT attempts to maximise your superscore. You’ll have more flexibility to decide which scores to send to colleges, which ones to withhold. You can also spend more time studying for the SAT and give your exam at a later date without missing application deadlines. 

Your test-taking environment will be more secure to eliminate cheating and malpractice

The College Board has been known to cancel an entire batch’s scores if even a single paper is found to be compromised. The added risk of test leaks and cheating scandals continues to keep SAT test-takers on edge. After all, if your score gets cancelled, your entire application can get ruined. 


Fortunately, the digital SAT format offers much better security. Each student is given a different set of questions, making it nearly impossible to cheat. 

The new digital SAT format is designed to be much shorter and concise

Fewer sections, fewer questions, and fewer passages have resulted in a shorter, tighter SAT that will last for only 2 hours 14 minutes – down from the 3 hours it used to take. 


The reading and writing sections have been clubbed into one, passages cut short, and the total number of questions reduced. 

You’ll be tested on your college-readiness as opposed to endurance and speed

Up until now, the SAT tested endurance and speed along with college skills. The long paper test, with verbose passages, and a constant dearth of time meant students were racing to answer all questions. This compromised their accuracy and didn’t allow them to put their best foot forward. 


With the new shorter format, students will have breathing room to tackle each question effectively. 

The IMS Live Online SAT  program has been designed to deal with the new SAT format. With 48+ hours of dedicated live online coaching, 10+ mock tests, 270+ drills, and 1000+ practice questions, the IMS program prepares you to score 1400+ on the SAT with ease.