New & Digital SAT Format 2024: Essential Insights

February 26, 2024
4 min read

Embracing change, like switching to the new digital SAT format, may feel challenging at first. However, it comes with some perks. 

With the digital SAT, you won't lose your work if the internet goes down during the exam. Plus, the test is now easier to administer and take, making it a smoother experience for everyone involved. 

It's all part of the College Board's efforts to give you a more relevant and improved testing experience. In this blog, we'll take a look at what makes the digital SAT stand out and provide you with effective strategies to study for it.

Timeline for SAT Changes

On March 9, 2024, the first digital SAT exam will be administered for US students, with a registration deadline set for February 23, 2024

Moving forward, all SAT exams, both in the US and internationally, will transition to the new digital format. This shift signifies a significant change in test administration, bringing forth both opportunities and challenges for students.

Exploring the Features of the New Digital SAT

Let's take a look at the features of the new digital SAT, which are intended to make the test more user-friendly and better suited to students' abilities.

Revamped Test Times

In the updated digital SAT, the test is split into two parts: Reading and Writing, and Math. For the first part, students have 64 minutes, and for the Math section, they have 70 minutes. Altogether, the test takes two hours and 14 minutes. This change aims to give students enough time to complete each section without feeling rushed.

Updates in Reading and Writing Sections

Here's a look at the updates in the Reading and Writing sections of the SAT:

  • Combining Reading and Writing: Instead of separate tests for Reading and Writing, the digital SAT now has a single Reading and Writing section. This change allows for a more efficient assessment of English language arts and content area literacy skills. It also recognizes the interconnected nature of reading and writing abilities.
  • Shorter Passages: In the digital SAT Reading and Writing section, students will encounter many shorter passages instead of a few long ones. This exposes them to a wider range of topics similar to what they'll encounter in college. Despite the shorter length, these passages maintain the same level of complexity and academic grounding as longer ones.
  • One Question per Passage: Each passage (or pair of passages) now has only one associated question. This simplifies the structure compared to having multiple questions for a small number of long passages.
  • Annotation Tools: Students can now highlight any part of a question and leave themselves a note. This feature allows them to annotate the text as they read, helping them better understand and answer questions.

These updates aim to make the Reading and Writing sections of the SAT more efficient, diverse, and supportive of students' skills and knowledge in English language arts.

Changes in the Math Section

The Math section of the SAT has been revamped to better match how math is used in the real world and to make things easier for students. Here's what's changed:

  • Calculator Use: Before, students had to switch between using a calculator and doing math without one during the SAT. Now, they can use their calculator for the entire math section, making it easier.
  • Graphing Calculator: Everyone taking the test now has access to the same type of calculator within the test software. This makes things fair for everyone.
  • Word Problems: Some math questions used to have long, complicated stories with them. Now, those stories are shorter, so they're easier to understand and solve.
  • Formula Sheet: Instead of having to memorize lots of formulas, students now get a sheet with common ones on it. This helps take the pressure off and lets them focus on solving problems.

These changes are meant to make the math part of the SAT simpler and fairer for everyone.

Key Difference Between the Digital SAT and the Old SAT

The main difference between the Digital SAT and the Old SAT is how the tests are administered. While both aim for similar content and scoring, the Digital SAT is taken digitally, breaking away from the traditional paper-based format of the Old SAT. This shift impacts how students take the test and may change their testing strategies. Let’s take a closer look at these differences. 

Adaptive Testing

The digital SAT differs from the old SAT in its use of multistage adaptive testing (MST). Unlike the linear format of the traditional SAT, where everyone answers the same questions in sequence, the digital SAT splits each section into two equally timed stages.

In the first stage, students encounter a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions. Based on their performance in this stage, the difficulty of questions in the second stage adjusts accordingly. 

This adaptive approach shortens the test while maintaining accuracy and allows students to navigate within each section freely, aiding in time management.

Rapid Test Result Turnaround

Moving to digital testing for the SAT brings a big change in how quickly you get your scores. Even though you still check them on the College Board's website, the time it takes to see your results is much faster than before.

With the introduction of the digital SAT, students no longer have to wait weeks to receive their scores. Instead, scores are uploaded to their online accounts within just a few days after completing the test. 

This quick process not only gives students prompt feedback on how they did but also helps schools get the scores faster. Usually, about seven to 10 days after students see their scores, their schools also receive them.

In the future, the College Board plans to make getting your SAT scores even faster and more efficient. While international students currently wait about two weeks, they're working to cut this down to just a few days. 

Similarly, for U.S. students, you can expect to see your digital SAT scores online around two weeks after the test. But don't worry, efforts are underway to speed up this process even more. Overall, the move to digital SAT testing means getting your scores quicker, which is good news for both students and schools.

Strategies for Navigating the New SAT Format

Let's explore some effective strategies for getting a handle on the new SAT format in 2024. In this section, we'll discuss practical tips to help you navigate and excel in the updated test structure.

Engage with the SAT Digital Practice Test

Get ready to excel on the SAT with SAT digital practice tests. These strategies will help you get test-ready.

  • Practice with Full-Length Digital Tests: Regularly use the full-length digital practice tests in the SAT app to simulate the test experience, build stamina, and get comfortable with the format.
  • Know Your Stuff: Familiarize yourself with the content and question types in each SAT section to approach them confidently on test day.
  • Get Extra Practice on Khan Academy: Use Khan Academy's SAT practice resources to reinforce skills, understand concepts better, and access helpful explanations.
  • Review Your Performance: Analyze your practice test results to identify strengths, weaknesses, and patterns, enabling you to focus on areas needing improvement.
  • Practice Like It's Test Day: Mimic test day conditions during practice sessions to develop time-management skills and ensure readiness for the real exam.
  • Ask for Help if You Need It: Don't hesitate to seek assistance from teachers, tutors, or peers if you encounter challenges during your preparation. Support is available to help you succeed.

Create an Effective Study Plan

Crafting an effective study plan for the digital SAT is key to achieving your target score. Let's break it down into five straightforward steps to help you create the perfect study routine:

1. Set Your Goal Score

Begin by identifying your goal score, which is the score most likely to get you into the colleges on your application list. Research the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for each school to determine your target.

2. Download the Bluebook App

Ensure you have access to the official SAT testing platform by downloading the Bluebook app. This app not only enables you to take the digital SAT but also provides valuable study materials, including practice exams.

3. Take an Adaptive SAT for Your Baseline Score

Take an official SAT practice exam through Bluebook to establish your baseline score. This score serves as your starting point and helps gauge how much preparation you'll need to reach your goal.

4. Determine Study Hours Needed

Calculate the number of study hours required to bridge the gap between your baseline and goal scores. Use a guideline based on the point difference between the two scores to estimate your study time.

5. Assemble Your Study Materials

Focus on digital SAT resources for your study plan, prioritizing official practice digital SATs and other recommended materials from the College Board. While you can incorporate some paper SAT prep materials for specific drills, digital SAT resources offer the most relevant preparation for the exam's adaptive format.

By following these steps, you'll be well-equipped to develop an effective study plan tailored to your SAT goals.

Utilize SAT Prep Books

To make the most out of SAT prep books, follow these simple steps:

  • Break It Down: Take a look at each section of the SAT prep books separately. Figure out which areas need the most work and focus on those first.
  • One Book at a Time: Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle multiple books at once. Start with one SAT prep book and work through it thoroughly before moving on to the next.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: After studying each section, do the practice questions in the book. This will help reinforce what you've learned and get you familiar with the types of questions you'll see on the test.
  • Check Your Progress: Once you've covered everything, use books with sample questions to assess how ready you are. Take practice tests to see where you still need to improve.

When using The Official SAT Study Guide, don't just take practice tests one after the other. Take the time to analyze your mistakes and work on them before moving on. Here's how to do it based on your practice test scores:

  • For High Achievers: Focus on fixing mistakes, especially in weaker areas like math. Use resources like The Official Guide's content chapters and other SAT math prep sites to brush up on topics you're not so confident about.
  • For Average Scorers: Start by analyzing your mistakes and making a study guide. Work on filling in any gaps in your knowledge, especially in math. Use extra resources to help you with areas you're struggling with before moving on to practice tests.

By following these steps and making good use of SAT prep books, you'll be well on your way to acing the SAT.

Master Time Management Techniques

When preparing for the digital SAT, mastering time management is crucial, especially given the specific time allocations for each stage:

Reading and Writing (RW) Section 

  • 1st module: 32 minutes
  • 2nd module: 32 minutes
  • Total reading time allotted: 64 minutes

Math Section

  • 1st module: 35 minutes
  • 2nd module: 35 minutes
  • Total math time allotted: 70 minutes

To help students keep track of time, a testing timer is available. This clock counts down the time remaining in each module. Students have the option to hide the timer, but they receive an alert when five minutes remain in the module, allowing for better time management.

It’s also keep in mind that the digital SAT Suite offers extra help for students with disabilities and English learners. This means everyone gets a fair chance. 

For instance, students with documented disabilities can get extra time—like one and a half times longer (+50%), double the regular time (+100%), or even more than double the time (>+100%). Similarly, English learners can also get extra time at a rate of one and a half times longer (+50%).

Now, let's delve into some specific strategies to help you maximize your time on the Digital SAT: 

  1. Know the Test Format: Take time to understand the structure, question types, and time limits of the digital SAT. Familiarity breeds efficiency, so review the instructions thoroughly to plan your time allocation effectively.
  2. Practice Timed Tests: Utilize online resources offering timed digital SAT practice tests. Simulating test conditions will help you gauge your pace, identify areas of improvement, and refine your timing strategy.
  3. Eliminate Choices: Use the process of elimination for multiple-choice questions. Start by ruling out obviously incorrect answers to narrow down your options swiftly. This approach saves time and increases accuracy.
  4. Prioritize Passages and Questions: Instead of following a fixed order, tackle passages or questions based on personal familiarity or perceived difficulty. Prioritizing easier tasks first builds momentum and confidence, leaving more time for challenging sections.

5. Avoid Overthinking: Resist the urge to dwell on a single question. Trust your instincts, make educated guesses if necessary, and move on. Remember, time is precious, so don't let overthinking derail your progress.

To ace time management for the digital SAT, prepare, strategize, and stay focused. With these tactics, you'll be ready to tackle the exam. Good luck!

Incorporate Self-Care Into Your Preparation

Adding self-care into your prep for the digital SAT is vital for staying sharp and managing stress. Here's how to do it:

  • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours a night to stay focused and alert.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Give yourself time to relax and recharge during study sessions.
  • Stay Active: Exercise boosts mood and brainpower, so find ways to move every day.
  • Eat Well: Fuel your body with nutritious foods to keep energy levels up.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Take a few minutes each day to clear your mind and reduce stress.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay sharp and avoid fatigue.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break your study tasks into manageable chunks and celebrate your progress.

By taking care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to tackle the SAT with confidence.


Let's move on to the FAQ section, where we'll cover common queries about the digital SAT format.

1. What Is the Structure of the New Digital SAT?

The new Digital SAT consists of two main sections: Reading and Writing, and Math. Students are allotted 64 minutes for the Reading and Writing section and 70 minutes for the Math section, totaling two hours and 14 minutes for the entire exam.

2. What Is the Difference Between the New SAT and the Digital SAT?

The difference between the New SAT and the Digital SAT lies primarily in the format and administration of the test. One notable change is the reduction in overall testing time with the introduction of the digital format. This decrease is partly due to a reduction in the number of questions across math, reading, and writing sections.

3. What Is the SAT Layout 2024?

Starting in 2024, the SAT will be taken entirely on a computer screen, moving away from the old pencil-and-paper format.

4. What Is the New Format of the SAT?

The new digital format of the SAT consists of two sections: Reading and Writing, and Math. 

Final Thoughts

The shift to the new digital SAT format in 2024 brings significant changes to how the test is taken. With updated test times, adaptive testing, and changes in sections, students face new challenges and opportunities. Stay informed to navigate these changes effectively and give your best performance on the exam.

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