What You Need to Know About the Digital SAT in 2022

A student taking an online test on a laptop

The future is (almost) here! College Board, the group of folks who make the SAT, has finally decided to switch the format of the exam from paper and pencil to taking the test on a digital device. Wow College Board, is it 2007 already? 😆

The new digital format will make the SAT more accessible to more future college superstars, which is awesome! College Board is also taking this opportunity to make some other changes to the test. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the new Digital SAT, as well as what’s staying the same and what’s changing from the paper-based SAT.

What’s on the Digital SAT?

The Digital SAT will test almost the exact same topics and skills that the SAT has always tested. That means the Digital SAT features passages across a range of academic disciplines, and will ask you to demonstrate command of evidence, vocabulary in context, and conventions of written English like sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. The entire Reading and Writing section is made up of multiple choice questions.

On the math side, the Digital SAT will include problems covering the topics that matter most for college and career readiness and success. That means plenty of algebra and advanced math, as well as some word problems, data analysis, geometry, and trigonometry. The math section is made up mostly of multiple choice questions with a few of the grid-in style questions (AKA “student produced response”) mixed in.

How is the Digital SAT scored?

The big takeaway here is that your Digital SAT score report will still use the familiar 200-800 scores for both the Reading and Writing section and the Math section. Then, those two scores are added together to get your overall SAT score out of 1600.

But since the test will now be digital, College Board can get a little more sophisticated about how they come up with your score. The Digital SAT will be scored adaptively, which means the overall difficulty of your test depends on you! Both the Reading and Writing section and the Math section will be broken into two separately timed modules. The first module will have a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions. Based on how you do, you may see an easier, harder, or more balanced second module targeted to you. This change doesn’t really affect how it feels to take the test, but it does mean they can produce a more accurate score with fewer questions and a shorter test. Digital SAT for the win!

How to Prepare for the Digital SAT

Good news here—preparing for the SAT is almost exactly the same as it’s been for years! All the tips, tricks, strategies, and study schedules test prep experts have always recommended will be virtually unchanged from the paper-based test to the Digital SAT.

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One important callout here is that the Digital SAT students will see mostly the same lesson videos and video explanations of practice questions in Magoosh as the paper SAT students see. So, for now it’s really important for students studying for the Digital SAT to be aware of the differences so you’ll know when a Magoosh video mentions some info that may not apply to your test.

The novelty of the Digital SAT also means there’s a lot less data available about the scoring scale. That means score estimates in Magoosh may not be as accurate for a little while (but they should still be really close). It also means an official score on the paper SAT may be less predictive of your performance on the Digital SAT. Of course, Magoosh students can email our test prep experts for answers anytime they have questions about the Digital SAT!

Paper vs. Digital SAT Comparison

Paper SAT Digital SAT
Format Paper and pencil Digital testing application downloaded to a computer or tablet
Sections Separate Reading and Writing sections

Separate calculator and no-calculator Math sections

One combined Reading and Writing section

One Math section with calculator allowed for all of it

Length and timing Reading: 52 questions in 65 minutes

Writing and Language: 44 questions in 35 minutes

Math: 58 questions in 80 minutes

3 hours total testing time

Reading and Writing: 54 questions in 64 minutes

Math: 44 questions in 70 minutes

2 hours 14 minutes total testing time

Content Math topics including algebra, problem solving, geometry, and trigonometry

English topics including reading comprehension, vocabulary, rhetoric, and grammar

Longer passages each with several questions

Math topics including algebra, problem solving, geometry, and trigonometry

English topics including reading comprehension, vocabulary, rhetoric, and grammar

Shorter passages each with only one question

How to prepare Review math and English topics, lots of realistic practice including mock tests

Study for at least several weeks and up to several months

Review math and English topics, lots of realistic practice including mock tests

Study for at least several weeks and up to several months

Timeline Taken by U.S. students until spring 2024

Taken by students outside the U.S. until spring 2023

Taken by U.S. students starting spring 2024

Taken by students outside the U.S. starting spring 2023

Long Story Short…

Even though the test itself is changing in a big way, preparing for the SAT is barely changing at all! And we can all celebrate that the test will now be shorter, simpler, with no need for a no.2 pencil. If you’re interested in more details about the Digital SAT, check out the Digital SAT doc from College Board or email [email protected]. Happy studying!


  • Elliot Hirsen

    Elliot works on Magoosh’s products and curriculum making sure students have a great experience and get all the points they deserve. He’s a test prep pro with more than 10 years experience teaching, tutoring, developing courses, and writing explanations. Elliot is a reformed rock climber bum who enjoys gardening, hiking, and pickin’ his guitar when he’s not working.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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