How to Get Ready for the Digital SAT

In 2024, Michigan students will take the SAT in a brand new digital format. Here’s what you need to know to help your child get ready for the digital SAT.

Michigan public school students who file into the classroom or auditorium to take the SAT in the spring of 2024 will face a new format — one that doesn’t require a No. 2 pencil. For the first time ever, students will take a new digital SAT. 

This is a major change for the SAT, and it’s important for parents to be aware of the new format so they can help their students prepare. Educators say there is a lot to know about this new test, and some of it is really positive. 

Students who take the SAT in the fall of 2023 will still encounter the pencil-and-paper version of the exam — but all versions of the PSAT, including the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT have already migrated to the digital format. This means juniors who want to qualify for National Merit Scholarship status by taking the PSAT/NMSQT will take the digital version of this test in the fall of 2023, then go on to take the digital version of the SAT in the spring.

Of course, students who have never taken the paper-and-pencil version of the SAT won’t have anything to compare the new format to — but their parents and older siblings who have taken the non-digital version will. 

What to know about the digital SAT

What do families need to know about this new digital format for the SAT and how should students prepare? Here are six basic things to know about the new digital SAT.

1. The digital SAT isn’t just a computer version of the previous format. It’s a whole new test. Instead of multiple sections from the pencil-and-paper version, the digital SAT has just two sections: reading/writing and math. 

2. The reading/writing section has 54 questions to finish in 64 minutes. The math section has 44 questions to finish in 70 minutes. The entire test takes two hours and 14 minutes to complete, which is much shorter and quicker than the non-digital version of the SAT.

3. Each section starts with an initial module that contains a mix of questions that range from easy to medium to hard. A student’s performance on this initial module determines the difficulty of the section’s second module. In this way, the digital SAT is adaptive to each student’s ability.

4. Students are allowed to use a calculator on all portions of the math section, and there’s a calculator built into the testing software. Students may prefer to bring their own calculator, and that’s fine, too.

5. The reading passages will be shorter. 

6. Some aspects of the SAT will remain the same. The test still follows a 1600-point scale. The SAT is still taken by students in a test center or at school. Students who need accommodations on test day will still be supported on test day.

How to prepare for the digital SAT

Taking the digital SAT is a significant milestone for your student. A great score can demonstrate to their top schools of choice that they have what it takes to succeed academically at the college level. Test prep — even if it’s just to get to know the digital SAT software and the format of the test — is an important step you should encourage your child to take.

Here are four tips to help your child get ready for the digital SAT.

1. Get familiar with the new format of the test. The College Board, which is the company that creates the SAT, has resources available to help students learn about the new digital SAT, including practice tests and tutorials.

2. Help your child develop good test-taking skills. This includes things like managing their time effectively, staying focused and avoiding careless errors.

3. Encourage regular practice. The more your child practices, the more comfortable they will be with the digital format of the test.

4. Consider using a test prep course. A good test prep course can help your child learn the skills they need to succeed on the digital SAT and develop the strategies they need to perform their best on test day.

Content sponsored by Michigan Education Savings Program. Learn more at misaves.com.

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Metro Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.

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