How to Study for the Digital SAT: A Step-by-Step Guide

It's important to study for the digital SAT to understand the test.

The SAT is an entrance exam colleges and universities in the US use as part of the college applicant admissions process. While the exam has been administered in a traditional pen-and-paper format in the past, it’s soon going to change! The College Board is making the SAT fully digital starting next year. The digital SAT will be shorter, adaptive, and easy to administer. In this post, we’ll go into how to study for the digital SAT. You can also check out our previous guide to the digital SAT, which gives you a rundown on everything you need to know.

When is the SAT going digital?

The new digital SAT commences in March 2024. Before that, the PSAT will become digital in the fall of 2023.

A few other questions you may have are: “What is the structure of the digital SAT? How does it compare with the traditional SAT?” The answers to your questions are discussed below:

  • You can take the SAT digitally through an app from the College Board.
  • The test duration is reduced from 3 hours to 2 hours and 14 minutes.
  • It is an adaptive test. The difficulty levels of the questions in the second stage depend on how you performed in the first stage.
  • There are two sections. One is ‘Reading & Writing,’ and the other is ‘Math.’ Both sections have two stages. Compared to the traditional SAT, there are fewer questions on the digital SAT. As a result, the overall duration has also been reduced.
  • There will be four unscored questions mixed along with the scored questions.
  • Like before, the total score is 400-1600. But, again, there are no subscores like before.
  • A large pool of questions will be available, and an algorithm will select unique questions for each student.
  • Students have to take the exam at school or a test center.
  • National dates are unchanged, but school testing is done through staggering. This ensures more flexibility for students.
  • All existing accommodations will be maintained. Visually impaired students, or those needing Braille accommodations, can still take the paper test.
  • The SAT score will be released faster than before.
  • Since the test is cached and encrypted, internet issues will not affect the test conduct.
Girl preparing to study for the digital SAT.
Image by storyset on Freepik

Overview of the digital SAT: What to expect during the exam

Another question you may have is, “How do we know the strategies to use when no US students have officially taken it yet?” Well, despite this, we do have details from the College Board. Practice questions are available, which give an idea of what the test will be like and makes it possible to prepare for the SAT with practice tests.

Based on the information available, the following information will help you prepare strategies for the SAT:

The order of the sections in the test is Reading and Writing Stage 1, Reading and Writing Stage 2, Math Stage 1, and Math Stage 2. Once you complete Stage 1, questions for Stage 2 may change based on your performance. Also, in each stage, there are two unscored questions. Even if you get them right, the marks are not considered for the final score.

Tools within the test

There are several tools that the digital SAT format offers you. You have a timer on the screen, so you can pace yourself and know how long you have left in each section. An alert will pop up five minutes before closing time. Once the time is up, the test will close.

Additionally, if needed, you can flag questions and come back to them later to review. You can also see any questions you have flagged and those you have not yet attempted. This will help you plan how to complete the test. Of course, you can always return to a question and complete it later.

Finally, the Reading and Writing questions have options to annotate and highlight text. On the Math questions, a formula sheet and a digital calculator are available. You can even bring your own calculator. Unlike the paper test, there are no restrictions on the use of calculators. The SAT Math topics cover Algebra, Advanced Math, Problem Solving, Data Analysis, Geometry & Trigonometry. In addition, all the current SAT topics are included in the digital SAT.

How to make the most of online resources

Students learning how to study for the digital SAT.
Image by Freepik

A variety of online resources are available to help you prepare for the SAT. SAT prep material is available online, including material for the new digital SAT. Use this material to prep for the SAT. Here is an overview of various prep materials available online:

  1. College Board: The College Board’s website is helpful to help you study for the digital SAT exam. You can take the SAT practice test if you want a good SAT score. SAT prep is easy when you follow the test strategies mentioned on the website.
  2. Bluebook App: Download and install the Bluebook app on your mobile or other device. You can use this device to prepare for the digital SAT.
  3. Khan Academy: Full-length SAT practice tests are available on Khan Academy. Videos, booklets, and other prep materials are available to help you study for the digital SAT exam.
  4. Princeton Review: Use this site to get online practice. You will also get a personalized report with tips on improving your performance.
  5. Kaplan: You can get a question of the day for each day to help you with your SAT prep. Also, take the turbo test to prepare for the actual test.
  6. Spark Notes: This app has various tests on different topics to help you prepare for the SAT exam.
  7. Powerscore: You can take practice tests on this website. Various Prep materials are available to help you in your preparation.
  8. Reddit: The popular online community Reddit has a mega thread with many resources for the digital SAT. Use these resources for your SAT prep.

Tips for taking practice SAT tests

Practice makes you perfect. You should take more than one SAT practice test to do well in the new digital SAT. Taking up practice tests helps you prepare and gives you the confidence to do well in the SAT exam. Here are some valuable tips for taking practice tests:

  • Take as many practice tests as you can. Each time you take a test, you will feel more confident.
  • Review the answers and go through the performance report (where available). Try to find out where you went wrong for every test you take. Then, use the feedback to improve.
  • Understand your mistakes in order to see how to improve.
  • While attempting to read questions, look for the context. Also, contrasting words like ‘however’ or ‘still’ can change the meaning of a sentence. Read closely to understand each sentence.
  • While reading passages, first skim-read the passage once. It will help you understand what it is all about. Then read the passage slowly.
  • Look for evidence in the passage to choose the correct answers.
  • When you finish math questions, look at the explanation to understand if you got the answer right.
  • Plan the test so you have time to double-check the answers.

Work with a tutor to study for the digital SAT

There are two ways to study for the digital SAT. One is self-study, where you use books and online resources to prepare for the exam. The other is to take the help of a tutor. Studying on your own is an excellent way to learn. A question that comes up is, what if you don’t understand something? This is where a tutor is helpful. Tutors are knowledgeable and experienced. You can make use of their experience for your preparation.

When you work with a reputed website like Lessonpal, you can get a tutor to help you. The tutor can conduct lessons for you, offer strategies for exam preparation, and handle all your queries and doubts. In addition, a good tutor can help you work out a study calendar to help you prepare in the best possible way. You can find a tutor today from Lessonpal and get started with your preparation.

Strategies for overcoming test anxiety and staying calm

It is natural to feel tense and anxious before an important test like the SAT. Try to be calm and relaxed so your stress doesn’t affect your score. The following strategies will help you deal with stress:

  1. Make a study calendar. Solid preparation will make you more confident.
  2. Practice a lot. For a test like the SAT, taking practice tests will make you feel more secure and ready for the big day.
  3. Sleep well the night before the exam. Getting sufficient rest is crucial to be alert and sharp.
  4. Eat a nutritious breakfast to give you the energy you need for the day.
  5. Leave home early so you reach the test venue with plenty of time.
  6. Don’t worry if you run into a question you can’t answer right away. Leave it and come back to it later.
  7. Take deep breaths if you feel tense. It will help you feel calm.

The big picture

All in all, if you follow the above suggestions and make sure to study well ahead of your test date, you’ll be prepared to do well on the digital SAT. While the structure is changing, the difficulty is not. So, don’t be intimidated! Take multiple practice tests and a deep breath. Plus, if you feel like you need more support as you’re preparing for the test, Lessonpal SAT tutors are available to help! Check out their backgrounds and schedules to see who would fit best for you.

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