The Latest SAT Changes: Everything You Need to Know

More new changes are coming to the SAT. Here are Tutor Doctor’s tips on how you can get prepared!

The College Board announced several new changes to the SAT which will go into effect by 2024. The first major change is welcome news – the SAT is going fully digital! As many parents will recall, the SAT has retained its classic “Scantron” answer sheet format for decades. With this new format, students will no longer have to waste time darkening bubbles – and this also avoids having to bring extra equipment (specific #2 pencils, a sharpener, etc.) Most importantly, many dreaded test-taking flubs will now be a thing of the past – such as the nightmare scenario of accidentally skipping a line on the answer sheet, only to realize at the end of the exam that all the “bubbles” aren’t lined up with the right questions!

As an added bonus, we can all feel better about saving trees and helping the planet. In an increasingly paperless world, the switch to digital formats is a welcome change in our book (no pun intended)! Subsequently, the switch to electronic testing will also apply to the PSAT as well.

Another change most students will likely appreciate is that the test is getting a whole lot shorter! Whereas the current SAT is roughly three hours, the new format will be slimmed down at two hours. Although this change partially accounts for the switch to a digital exam, the College Board states that this new arrangement will provide students with more time per question. Other changes will also speed up the process – for example, the newer SAT will include shorter reading passages with only one question tied to each.

According to the College Board, students will have the option of either using their own device or a testing computer provided during the exam. We’d recommend opting for a test center computer to avoid any technical issues you may encounter with your personal laptop or tablet.

Finally, there’s a significant change coming to the Math section: a calculator is now allowed for the full portion! Currently, the SAT includes a calculator-free section as well as a calculator-permitted section. We think this change is a great idea, although we still recommend bringing scratch paper and a pencil to the exam as multi-step equations or questions involving dimensions (algebra and geometry) are often easier to approach using traditional methods.

How will this affect my SAT prep plan?

The determining factor will be based on when you plan to take the SAT itself. Keep in mind that these new changes will not go into effect until 2024. As a result, current juniors and seniors won’t have to worry about adjusting their SAT prep plans. For all other high school students, we recommend preparing with the new test formats in mind by getting accustomed to digital test-taking environments and practicing with the “new” format exams as they become available.

As a reminder, several other changes to the SAT also went into effect last year – most notably being the removal of the optional SAT Essay section as well as SAT Subject Tests. We know all these changes can be overwhelming for families just beginning the SAT preparation process! Click here to learn how Tutor Doctor can help.