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You’ve been hard at work preparing for the paper SAT and now you need to switch to the new Digital SAT test. Whether you knew it was coming or not, switching tests has the potential to feel daunting. Luckily, there’s good news: while some question styles are new and the distribution of the questions is different, the SAT isn’t introducing lots of new concepts. This means you might have to learn a few new strategies for handling the new questions efficiently, but much of what you have been studying is still relevant!

Digital Sat Test Dates

The first digital SAT test date for international students was March 11, 2023. The last paper test date for international students was December 3, 2022.

SAT Test Dates

How Will Adaptive Testing Work on the new SAT?

An adaptive test evolves in response to a student’s performance. Whereas the older SAT is static, with each student receiving the same test form, the new SAT will adjust the difficulty of the test content to best suit each student’s skill level.

The math portion and the Reading & Writing portion of the new SAT will each be divided into two modules. The first module will have a wide range of difficulty among the questions. Based on each student’s performance on the first set of modules, the second set of modules will be “High” and “Low,” with either more difficult or less difficult questions, respectively. This adaptive structure allows for a more precise measure of student skills, so the test can offer accurate scores with fewer questions.

Old SAT Structure – Static: With the traditional SAT, there is a wide variety of difficulties throughout the test. Some questions may be too simple or too difficult for a student. Many questions are needed so that one standardized test form can provide enough data on students across different skill levels.

New SAT Structure – Adaptive: With the adaptive, digital SAT, the first modules offer a range of difficulty. Students’ performances on the first modules determine if the next modules should be easier or more difficult.

Strategy to Prepping for the Digital SAT

The good news is that while the digital SAT definitely has some changes, there’s actually a lot about the exam that’s the same. That means you can use many of the techniques you’d use to prep for the paper-and-pencil SAT to get ready for the digital SAT. 

The Three Steps of Test Prep:

1. Take a full-length practice test.

Start by taking a full-length practice test. Be sure to simulate test-day conditions as much as possible, so no cellphones, TV, or other distractions. Practice tests help you get acquainted with the style and format of the test, and they serve as a diagnostic to help you identify what you need to work on and how much you need to improve to reach your goals.

2. Review the results.

Once you’ve taken the test, go through your results. Take note of what you did well and what you need to improve. Did you manage your time well? Were there patterns in the types of questions you missed? 

It’s best to go through the test question by question and review the questions you missed, skipped, or guessed. Read the answer explanations to make sure you understand how to arrive at the correct answer, and make note of any concepts you need to review.

3. Target the areas that need work.

Once you’ve discovered what you need to improve, spend some time practicing those specific skills. Review relevant concepts, learn and practice key strategies, and complete targeted practice exercises that focus on a specific content area or question type. 

Full-length Practice Tests are Essential

Authentic, full-length practice tests are key to practicing well and should serve as the backbone of your SAT preparation. Practice tests will help get an accurate picture of the style, format, and demands of the test. You’ll go into the test with more confidence if you know exactly what to expect.  

It’s important to simulate the test-day experience by taking timed practice tests in one sitting, so that you can get an accurate feel for timing and build up your endurance. While the new digital SAT is shorter with more time per question than the paper test, it’s still essential to get used to the demands of the test length and timing.

We have  full-length, adaptive practice tests for the digital SAT and hundreds of additional practice questions. Learn more.

Understanding the Content is Critical

The initial part of test prep focuses on getting acquainted with the test and learning key strategies for various question types. Familiarity with the style and format of the test is imperative and strategies can be very useful. However, focusing exclusively on these two areas is usually not enough to result in a meaningful change in your scores.

For example, if you don’t understand geometry, it will be difficult for you to answer roughly 15% of the questions on the Math section, which effectively puts a ceiling on your Math section score. By improving your understanding of geometry, you increase the number of questions you are able to answer, and therefore increase your score potential.

Identifying and studying the areas that you need to improve will help you increase your score potential and can result in meaningful changes to your overall performance. 

When to Start Preparing for the SAT

You should start your SAT prep in the spring of your sophomore year or the following summer, so that you have ample time to prepare. Because you can take the SAT multiple times, it’s best to take your first test in the fall or early spring of your junior year. That way you have several opportunities to take the test again before applications are due.

If you haven’t started preparing, don’t fret. Taking a practice test is incredibly beneficial no matter when your test date is. Taking a full-length practice test will help you familiarize yourself with the SAT, so that you know what to expect on test day.

Start preparing today!