Navigating the Digital SAT: A Guide for Students and Parents

Welcome to the new era of the SAT! As we wave goodbye to the paper-based tests, let’s embrace the digital SAT with open arms. It’s not just a change in format; it’s a whole new way of testing that’s more in tune with today’s digital world. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know to ace this modern version of a classic exam.


The Adaptive Test: A Personalized Challenge 

The Digital SAT uniquely tailors its challenge to each student. Comprising two modules for both English and Math sections, the second module’s difficulty adjusts based on your first module’s performance.

Tip: Don’t waste energy trying to guess whether you’ve hit the harder or easier module. Such speculation can distract and derail your focus. Instead, treat each question with equal seriousness, maintaining a consistent and steady pace throughout. The goal is to demonstrate your knowledge comprehensively across all sections.

Shorter, Sweeter, Less Stressful  

Here’s a breath of fresh air for test-takers: the Digital SAT clocks in at just 2 hours and 14 minutes. That means you spend nearly an hour less than in the traditional format. The shorter time frame is designed to reduce stress and boost focus, helping students to concentrate better on the task at hand.

Tip: Use this reduced time to your advantage. Since you have less time to contend with fatigue or dwindling concentration, plan your approach to maximize efficiency. Keep a close eye on the clock and pace yourself, ensuring that you allocate enough time to each question without rushing.

Math: Welcome Desmos 

The Digital SAT maintains the same math topics but introduces a significant change—you can use a calculator for the entire Math section. No more “No Calculator” segment! Plus, a Desmos graphing calculator is integrated into the test.

Tip: Get comfortable with Desmos. Practice graphing parabolas, exponential functions, and solving systems of equations using this tool. This familiarity will give you an edge in efficiently tackling a variety of math questions.

Reading & Writing: Short and Sharp  

Say goodbye to those long, daunting passages. The digital SAT presents a fresh approach where each question is paired with its own paragraph, set of phrases, notes, or even a poem. It’s all about making things more manageable and less overwhelming.

Tip: Pay attention to the order of questions. Prioritize “Words in Context” questions as they generally take less time—just don’t rush through them. Save questions on “Purpose,” “Central Ideas,” or “Evidence” for review and tackle them at the end. This strategy helps in time management and ensures you’re not rushing through the more complex questions.

Tech Tools at Your Fingertips 

Welcome to the digital age of testing, where your laptop or tablet becomes an essential part of your SAT toolkit. The digital SAT provides various built-in tech tools to enhance your test-taking experience.

Tech Tools Breakdown:

    • Graphing Calculator: Built directly into the exam, this tool is especially handy for more complex math problems. Practice using it beforehand so you aren’t trying to figure it out during your exam.


    • Digital Notepad: While it’s available for jotting down thoughts and calculations, we find it a bit clunky compared to good old pen and paper. Practice using this feature to see if it’s the right fit for you, but remember, traditional note-taking might still be your best bet.


    • Highlighter Feature: For those who find visual cues helpful, the highlighter can be a game-changer. It’s ideal for marking key points in passages or questions.


    • Answer Choice Eliminator: A neat feature that allows you to cross out answers you know are incorrect, helping you narrow down your choices.


    • Question Review Marker: This tool lets you flag questions you’re unsure about, so you can easily return to them later.


  • Hideable Clock: A customizable feature that allows you to view or hide the test timer. For some students, watching the clock can increase anxiety, so having the option to hide it can help maintain focus on the questions at hand.

Tip: Spend time familiarizing yourself with these tools before the test. While they’re designed to assist you, being comfortable with their functionality is key– you don’t want to try using them for the first time during your exam.


Ready to tackle the new Digital SAT with confidence? 

Take the first step towards mastering the exam by signing up for our FREE Digital SAT Practice Exam today! Gain hands-on experience with the new format, familiarize yourself with the integrated DESMOS calculator, and start identifying your strengths and areas for improvement. Click here to register now.


The new Digital SAT is more than just a shift in testing format; this change marks a significant step towards integrating technology more deeply into education. Staying informed about any updates from the College Board is crucial as they continue to refine this digital approach. Despite the new digital format, the core skills assessed remain the same, so continue to strengthen your foundational knowledge in math and English. Be ready to adapt your strategies to the test’s adaptive nature. Embrace this opportunity to showcase your abilities in a dynamic and forward-thinking way.

Robert Brundage
Robert is a tutor and Creative Content Manager at Revolution Prep. Off-duty, he enjoys being silly with his daughter, trying out new recipes, and playing board games with his wife and friends.