Ace the New Digital SAT With Expert Tips and a Practice Test

Prepare today for one of the most important tests you’ll ever take!

One of the first things admissions officers at top US universities look at is your standardized test scores, which provide an objective way to measure your academic competence against thousands of other applicants.

While the new digital SAT is shorter and has fewer sections than the old SAT, the exam is still challenging. Even with the most recent admissions cycle, students admitted to highly competitive universities are scoring in the 90th percentile — which is why it is so important to start your SAT prep well in advance.

Smart strategy to ace the October 2023 sat exam

On Timing

The digital SAT is, in many ways, a more forgiving exam than its predecessor, prioritizing content mastery over sheer stamina: on the new exam, students have, on average, 1.19 minutes to answer each Reading and Writing question and 1.59 minutes to answer each Math question. This means that students should be mindful of the clock while practicing, but they don’t need to live in fear of it!

On Question (Re)Ordering

Much like its predecessor, the digital SAT allows students to navigate freely throughout each module. Since the exam is largely organized by increasing difficulty level, there isn’t so much of a need to do so. However, should a student decide to jump around, they have the app on their side: the catastrophic mis-bubbling nightmare scenario of the paper exam is made moot on the digital exam, which logs a student’s answers within the app.

On Annotations and the Bluebook App

Students are encouraged to download and navigate through the Bluebook app, which is the app on which students will take the official exam on their designated test date(s), early on in their SAT preparations. Bluebook offers tools such as flagging questions a student may want to return to, providing an alert when five minutes remain in the module, a built-in graphing calculator, a list of common formulas, and special annotation tools which the student is encouraged to make use of. It’s best to get used to these capabilities early on.

On Prepping for Distractions

One particular change to the new exam is that students may click the “start” button to begin the exam at staggered intervals, meaning that students may be getting up to take breaks and/or exit the testing center at different times. For students who are easily distracted, it may be worthwhile to complete the occasional SAT prep in a (reasonably) busy environment, such as a library. Getting used to a reasonable level of distraction can help ease test-day jitters and improve focus under a variety of circumstances.


As with any major exam, the best advice you can follow is to start early. Introduce yourself to the content of the exam by perusing these sample questions and answer explanations released by the College Board. Once you have your bearings, try your hand at a full-length, diagnostic digital practice test, available on Bluebook. Because the digital SAT is new, there’s a reasonable volume of official test prep materials available, but the volume certainly pales in comparison with the vast supply of paper SAT prep materials available in bookstores, libraries, and online. Luckily, you can still use these materials!