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Digital and Distinguished

Five Tips to Succeed in the Digital SAT


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash


March 9 marks the first digital SAT in the United States. Even though both digital and traditional SATs assess similar knowledge and skills in English and math, the new format involves various online resources and lasts only for 2 hours and 14 minutes without extended time. With these changes, students have to adapt to the new format by reevaluating their strategies. If you are planning to take the digital SAT in the future, here are the tips that will help you prepare for it.


Be aware of the changes

As mentioned earlier, there are a few changes that come with the digital SAT. One of the biggest game changers is the adaptive format, where students’ performance on the first half of each section determines the difficulty of the latter half. For the math sections, students are now able to use a calculator all throughout, but the rest remains mostly unchanged. The reading section adds significant changes, with 54 short passages rather than five long passages and new types of questions. Having a general understanding of the process is crucial to minimize unnecessary stress and organize personalized study plans.


Don’t get stuck on the same passage

Since the previous SAT had long passages and a group of around 10 related questions, students had to comprehend all of the passages for overall success. However, since the digital SAT has short passages for every question, students no longer need to spend as much time on a single passage. When a passage doesn’t seem clear, it might be a good idea to move on and come back later because there is likely a higher chance that students will get other questions right. To maximize the time efficiency, students should at least take a look at all of the passages.


Take advantage of the timer

A common dissent for the traditional SAT was that depending on the room, some students didn’t have access to the remaining time. The new version, however, accompanies a timer on the screen, which can also be turned off based on the student’s preference. This tool allows students to pace themselves throughout the test without worrying that they are running out of time. The last five-minute alert also reminds students to finalize their answers and begin reviewing.


Use the digital features

In addition to the timer, there are new functions included in the digital SAT. In reading and writing, students can cross out wrong answers, highlight important texts and bookmark questions to review. In math, they have access to a digital calculator. Although it may take a few practices to get familiar with the new calculator, the rest of them are very user-friendly. It is important to note these functions as they can help one stay focused on specific details that they want to pay extra attention to.


Take full practice tests

In addition to lessons and practice questions on Khan Academy, there are currently four full practice tests available from the CollegeBoard. Once students take the tests on Bluebook, they can immediately see their scores. Additionally, the digital practice tests provide detailed explanations and identify the types of questions so that students can focus on areas of improvement. Overall, the practice tests give students an experience very close to the actual test-taking. However, since there are only four of them available, students should take one test at a time to make the best use of their resources.


The digital SAT has received varying opinions from students. Many international students who have taken it claim the digital SAT is slightly easier due to its adaptive format and shorter length, but others argue the limited study materials make it hard for students to prepare accordingly. However, as long as you practice consistently and use the tips above, the digital SAT may actually increase your chance of getting a high score.

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