The Scholastic Aptitude Test is now going digital! You must already know that. Taken by students outside the US from March, and later taken by all students from 2024, the Digital SAT is now eliminating the previous paper-and-pen version.
Do you have a feeling that taking the test digitally will be more complicated than the old method? Let me walk you through everything you need to know.
1) Bluebook as a platform
To start off, you might already know that the Digital SAT is administered in a student testing platform called Bluebook. You can install Bluebook as an app in your iPad or on other devices, but only after you sign up for the Digital SAT and create a College Board account.
Your school will usually install Bluebook into your device, if you ask them to. However, if you are unsure about Bluebook testing and want to get more familiar with the platform before Test Day, you can check our preparatory path, which is set up to guide you from your date of registration up till Test Day.
Also, a new version of the Bluebook app was released on January 23, 2023. Make sure you use this updated version, since the old version no longer works.
2) Time Management Tools in Bluebook
The Digital SAT has several useful application tools in Bluebook for you to use, and guess the best part about them? These tools are pretty simple to use! They include:
Review Questions Later
For any multiple choice exam, we need to be comfortable with leaving the difficult questions for the time being, and coming back to them later. For the Digital SAT, you can still do this.
You can flag difficult or confusing questions so you can return to them later. You can use flagging for questions you want to attempt at the very end, or for questions you will like to recheck - just in case.
A Visible Timer
With the previous pencil-and-paper SAT format, students faced the challenge of consistently keeping their eyes on the clock. This time, with the new Digital SAT, the clock has come to you.
The timer is visible at all times as it counts down the remaining time. If at all you begin to feel a little irritated or intimidated by it, you can minimize and hide it. Even if minimized, it will helpfully notify you when you only have five minutes left for the module, so you can wrap things up properly.
3) Math-Related Tools in Bluebook
In the older version of the SAT, you would only be using a calculator for certain questions in the Math section. Now, you can use a built-in DESMOS scientific and graphing calculator, which is available throughout the entire Math Section.
You will be getting practical application questions in the Math section, for which you can readily use this digital calculator. However, if you're unsure about using the in-built Desmos calculator due to a lack of familiarity, you can still bring in your own approved calculator for the test.
For the Math section, you now have access to a very useful reference sheet, which contains a list of fundamental, common formulas. You can refer to this information while answering questions in the Math section. These formulas will help you understand all the basic topics you will be getting tested on for the Math section.
While this is a super helpful tool, make sure you are familiar with all the formulas beforehand! You can take a look at the reference sheet below. This is the exact same sheet you will get during the exam.
The information in this sheet is meant to brush up your understanding of these concepts. Use this sheet as a resource, because it leaves you with enough time to polish your knowledge, in case you are able to start your preparation in advance.
4) Other Bluebook Tools for Critical Thinking
Bluebook also has critical thinking tools, so you don't miss out on the finer elements of test taking. This will mostly be helpful for the Reading and Writing section, although you can also utilize it for the Math section. Take a look at the following:
A good aspect about the older version of the SAT is how you feel in control, as you move your pencil along the length of the page, underlining the main points and scribbling down a quick note as you read.
In the Reading and Writing section of the Digital SAT, you can still annotate in the same ways. You can highlight parts of the passages you get. In addition, Bluebook also has the option for you to leave any notes or comments of importance.
Similarly, crossing out options is an inherent, useful strategy for any multiple choice exam. This remains the same for the Digital SAT, and Bluebook has the option eliminator tool. You can eliminate answer options by striking them out.
5) The Shorter Format of the Digital SAT
The shorter format is a clear highlight of the Digital SAT. Students often found the old format to be a bit extensive, since it was 195 minutes long (more than 3 hours). The Digital SAT is much more student-friendly. Also, test scores will be released a few days after Test Day, instead of weeks later.
The test length and duration of the new Digital SAT format is given below:
This table was taken from the official College Board website.
According to College Board, you also have more time for each question compared to the previous version. One of the reasons for this is, the previous SAT format also tested your test-taking speed. The new one is more solely focused on just your skills, as well as your knowledge.
6) The New Reading and Writing Format
When preparing for this Section, you need to keep in mind that the test is measuring your:
- comprehensive ability
- use of language and
- understanding of rhetoric
Passages in the now-combined Reading and Writing Section are taken from the subject areas of literature, the natural sciences, humanities, history, or the social sciences. This section measures your literacy knowledge and skills, with a wide range of topics which represent the difficulty of texts you will get at college. You need to use evidence within the passages and display your SAT english and grammar skills, to display how you are fully college-ready.
7) Preparing for the new Math Section
For the Math Section, that you will be tested on the key elements of:
- advanced math
- problem solving and data analysis and
- geometry and trigonometry
College Board has reduced the number of word problem questions in the Math section, and is now focusing more on just the theory and application of mathematical concepts. You will get both multiple choice questions and student-produced-response (SPR) questions.
Detailed information on how to prepare effectively for both Sections, and for further details about the exact differences in the new SAT from the previous pen and paper version, can be found in this video on Youtube, which also features a preparatory course for test taking.
8) Digital SAT Test Dates for 2023
Test Dates are fixed by College Board only a few months in advance. For now, we have upcoming Test Dates until June 2023. If you are interested in taking the Digital SAT soon, take a look at the following Test Dates and deadlines for test registration:
The rest of the Test Dates for the year will only be fixed in the months to come. In the table below are the anticipated Test Dates for the rest of 2023, although these dates are not fixed yet:
9) Resources for Taking the Digital SAT
To start off, the College Board website gives pointers for you to install Bluebook in your device, and on how you can take a full-lenth practice test in Bluebook two weeks before your Test Date.
Both College Board and the educational company called Khan Academy, helps you while you start your preparation. This is in the form of a few practice questions for each question type, which inform you about the Digital SAT's testing format.
However, since the Digital SAT format is completely new, you could say there is a shortage of effective and affordable educational resources which you can readily access, to help you prepare for your Test Date in the best possible ways.
10) Tip for Lack of Resources
Other than the sample test questions on College Board and Khan Academy, think of how you can develop your comprehension and analysis skills. You can do this by:
- Keeping up to date on current global debates,
- Reading newspapers to increase reading speed and vocabulary,
- Solve the vast amount of question from the older SAT format,
- Read historical speeches to get familiar with rhetoric, and
- And go through the Digital SAT theory (for all sections) in detail.
And if you will like a more comprehensive preparatory path, you can refer to our month-long course plan for the Reading and Writing Section here, which includes practice tests, questions, and further SAT questions for in-class and personal revision. Good luck for the Digital SAT!
Vidyalai is a live one-to-one online teaching platform, which also offers live preparatory courses for small and compact group batches. The Digital SAT Score Booster Live Prep Course has 40 live lessons in addition to such practice tests, questions, in-depth strategy sessions, further SAT questions, end-to-end support, and desmos mastery. Check if you'll like a free lesson, and get a head-start with the Digital SAT. All the best!