picture of laptop being used to take the digital sat

Key Insights for the Upcoming Digital SAT Administration in March 2024

December 4, 2023

Students in the US will start taking the new digital adaptive SAT in March 2024. The test was released internationally in the spring of 2023.

In this post, we will share the knowledge we have gained from working with our international students, students who we helped prepare for the digital adaptive PSAT that students took in October, and also students who have begun their test prep for the first administration of the Digital SAT in March in the US. 

We will dive into some of the nuances of the Digital SAT and answer some frequently asked questions that we have been getting from our students and parents.

Overview of the Digital SAT and Student Reactions

Fewer Questions, Shorter Duration

The Digital SAT has fewer questions than the paper-based SAT (98 questions vs. 154 questions) and is shorter in duration (just over 2 hours vs. 3 hours). This is in sharp contrast to the ACT which has 215 questions and is around 3 hours in length. It comes as no surprise that many of our students have embraced this new digital SAT with its shorter format.

Time Per Question

The average time per question for the digital SAT has increased to 82 seconds, compared to the ACT’s average of 48 seconds per question. This increase allows students to digest the questions fully and approach the problems thoughtfully, regardless of their typical testing speed. Students have found the Digital SAT’s more relaxed pacing has reduced the pressure to move as quickly through the test, enabling them to focus more carefully on the question at hand.

Bluebook App: Your New Best Friend 

The College Board has an application called Bluebook which students use both to practice the test and to take the official test. It’s clear that the College Board has invested time and effort into developing the Bluebook app. Students like the app’s friendly user interface and seamless experience, and while this may seem a somewhat trivial point, it can make a difference when students are spending dozens of hours on the app.

Bluebook also allows students to take the test on their own laptop/device. Students’ familiarity with their own devices has enabled them to focus on the test itself as opposed to spending time familiarizing themselves with the controls of another device.

Long Reading Passages? No More!

On the Digital SAT, the Reading and Writing section features shorter, self-contained passages with one very short piece of text per question. Compared to the long-form passages found in the ACT and the old SAT, students have found it easier to identify key concepts within the text and are spending less time having to search much longer passages looking for the answers.

Focus on Grammar and Vocab

The shorter passages and concise questions require a rigorous foundation in English grammar and vocabulary. You are required to show a strong understanding of the English language’s nuances according to standard English conventions. Successful students have found that they need to invest more time in honing this skill. The fundamental concepts tested on the new SAT, however, have not changed significantly since the test has changed format.


Unsurprisingly, students have welcomed the ability to use the Desmos graphing calculator which is built into the testing platform and students have access to throughout the math sections. It’s available for the entirety of the section, so becoming comfortable using Desmos well is a core skill that all students should develop.

Your FAQs: Answers from the Field

Is there enough material to prepare for the new digital SAT?

Yes. Summit has developed our own curriculum with hundreds of practice problems—plus two full-length digital practice tests (and counting!)—developed by our team of Digital SAT experts to replicate the real digital test.

In addition, the Bluebook app has four full length practice tests that students have access to. 

As always, working with a tutor is the best way to ensure that you utilize the available resources in the most impactful way possible. Please reach out to us to speak with one of our expert Program Directors who can help you to map out your student’s standardized testing plan. Our Program Directors can be reached at 800-698-8876 or you can book an appointment here.

What if I’m changing over from paper SAT prep?

A lot of the skills and content are transferable between the tests, and a thoughtful approach with what has changed with the Reading & Writing and Math sections will keep your prep efficient and focused without having to reinvent the wheel.

One of the first things we focus on with students switching from the paper-based SAT is becoming a Desmos expert. This can help many students capture points quickly on the Math section, which often serves as a motivation booster as they move over to the Reading & Writing section.

Another new aspect for students is the test’s section-adaptive modules. This means that how well you do on the first module of each section will determine whether you get an easier or harder version of the second module. Our tutors are trained to help students apply strategies regardless of the module they receive.

Do I need to be worried about technical difficulties on test day?

It’s prudent to always be prepared for the unexpected, but, thankfully, we have not seen a huge volume of technical difficulties, outside of the first hour of the PSAT administration on October 11 where the College Board servers were temporarily overwhelmed. We anticipate that the College Board solved this issue and students should have a more seamless testing experience in March. It is important to note that the international release of the digital SAT last spring went well.

Of course, please do take every possible step to avoid issues from your end, where they are the most likely to occur. For example, declutter your laptop, update the Bluebook app and download the test to your computer ahead of test day, and ensure you arrive charged to full battery. 

Luckily, though, as students are using their own laptops and will be practicing using Bluebook for weeks or months ahead of test day, we have often found that students have enjoyed a seamless experience. However, similar to a paper-based test, issues outside of students’ control can still arise!


In short, while there are some key differences between the paper-based and Digital SAT, the core concepts tested have not changed drastically. The new test is shorter, with fewer questions, and there is a clear focus on competency versus how quickly you can navigate the sections. 

That being said, the ACT can still be a right-fit test for students, particularly for those who do not enjoy math as much.

To navigate the new Digital SAT test with confidence, feel free to reach out to one of our Program Directors at 800-698-8876 or book an appointment here. They would be happy to discuss whether this test is the right fit for you and to clarify when and how to approach your test prep with success.


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