The SAT is moving toward being digital and will only be offered on desktop or laptop computers, Chromebooks or iPads (except for students receiving accommodations requiring paper tests ). This brings with it some significant changes.
However, scores on the new SAT will still carry equal weight with scores from its predecessor test. The main changes include:
There are two primary methods for administering adaptive testing: item-adaptive or section-adaptive. The digital SAT utilizes the latter form. Each SAT section (Reading and Writing, Math) will be divided into “modules”, or groups of questions with differing levels of difficulty, where their performance on the first module determines what they encounter on their second.
Within each module, questions typically progress from easier to harder over time; however, this is not required. Students should focus on doing their best in answering all questions within each module without overly worrying about initial questions in any one. Furthermore, they must remain mindful of their pacing by answering each question within its allotted time period to prevent costly mistakes that lower scores.
Students taking the new digital SAT will only have 64 minutes for Reading and Writing section and 70 for Math section, representing a significant reduction in test time across both sections. Passages have also been shortened while math section questions have become shorter.
This shorter format is intended to give students more time and focus to concentrate on each question and provide accurate responses. There are new features in-test including clock and ticker to assist time management as well as simple math formulas which appear on-screen.
The Digital SAT is not item-adaptive; each question’s difficulty will vary based on your performance; rather it is stage-adaptive; its first module in each section will always be easier than its second. But later modules may contain an unpredictable mix of easy, medium, and hard questions.
The new SAT exam has been created with students in mind and should be made more manageable, but you should still prepare thoroughly and study hard if taking part. The test remains challenging but can be made simpler by adopting this change and studying in earnest for it.
New Reading and Writing Passages
Reading and writing sections were once separate parts of the SAT; now they will be integrated into one verbal section divided into two modules on the digital test. Questions in each module generally progress in difficulty from easier to harder; passages will generally be shorter, typically one paragraph long with only one question per passage covering topics from literature, science, argumentative essays, poetry etc.
Additionally, the Math section will enable students to use calculators – something not available on previous paper-based exams – and will be split into two 32-minute modules with 27 questions each. This is perhaps the biggest change. Another key difference will be no scoring grid; rather your score will depend on how many questions were correct or incorrect rather than how difficult they were.
New Math Section
Even with all its changes, many of the same strategies for preparation remain effective for taking a digital SAT exam. Practice test taking and targeted exercises remain key elements to ensuring success on this test.
One notable change with regard to the Math section is that College Board has made an effort to emphasize reasoning over memorization of key procedures and formulas. This will become evident by fewer questions that focus on isolated figures and equations and more that present contextually rich problems with multiple steps required to solve. As part of their initiative to reduce geometry-centric questions and provide more balanced learning opportunities for their students, the district is working toward adopting an approach which includes “The Heart of Algebra” (variables, equations, systems); Problem Solving and Data Analysis (percentages, ratios, rates, graphical relationships and interpretation); as well as Advanced Topics such as manipulating expressions and equations or 2-type quadratic equations among other topics). Students may still utilize calculators but no longer feature a no-calculator section in this new Math section.