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Is the Digital SAT Harder? Exploring Changes, Similarities & Prep

Mar 18, 2024

High school students take the SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test to assess their college readiness. The score is accepted by many universities and institutes across different countries, including the USA and Canada. 

The globally recognized exam has converted from a pencil-and-paper format to a completely digital one. There are some similarities and changes in the digital SAT compared to the previous mode. All the critical information on the digital SAT is essential for candidates to define themselves as the answer to the question, ‘Is the digital SAT harder than the paper SAT?’


Why SAT Turned Digital?

Earlier, the SAT was in pencil-and-paper format, where it was taken for about 3 hours. Since 2023, the SAT exam has turned digital to introduce multistage adaptive testing (MST) methodology. The pattern is to check a student’s abilities accurately within a shorter period of time. It introduces student and educator-friendly changes. The results are quicker, and the overall process is more secure. 

The new digital SAT is computer-based, where devices that are approved or provided by The College Board are used for preparation and testing. Students have to install the ‘Bluebook’ app via iPhone’s Apple Store or Android’s Play Store to take the test. 


A Change to Digital SAT: Similarities and Difference

Is the SAT hard? This question is the most asked among the candidates planning to appear in the SAT. Due to the change in the format, schedule, and syllabus, several preparation contents and practice solutions have also been changed, creating a fuss among the candidates. 

However, there is nothing to worry about. The change in the new digital SAT is easier in many terms. Let us explore what similarities and differences the new digital SAT does have and to know: is digital SAT easier?



  • Evaluation of knowledge and skills required for most colleges and universities.
  • The score scale is still 1600 points.
  • The college board supports candidates by providing accommodation on test day.
  • The test is taken at authorized centers in the presence of a proctor. 
  • Test centers work for all candidates rather than just school-admitted students.
  • The college board offers free access to high-quality practice resources


  • Now, candidates have to take the test via digital devices such as a laptop, tablet, or computer system.
  • The test is 2 hours 15 minutes rather than around 3 hours.
  • Instead of longer texts, candidates will now get shorter passages.
  • Candidates are allowed to use calculators in math modules. The calculator is built into the Bluebook application.

Is the Digital SAT Harder than the Paper SAT?

The new digital SAT has created a myth among the candidates that it is hard. However, with the right preparation, dedication, hard work, and consistent practice, you can easily crack the exam with higher scores. Let us know how the digital SAT has made it easy for you all.

Digital Testing Application

The most significant change in digital SAT is the requirement to take the test in online mode. The online mode allows for incorporating multistage adaptive testing methods. It assists in offering questions at the candidate’s level, making the test more interactive for the candidates. The adaptive model has also allowed us to reduce the time duration of the test. 


Moreover, the digital application is user-friendly and easy to navigate through. The constantly appearing timer with the option to show or hide is customizable according to the candidate’s requirements. Another advantage of using digital testing applications is the flexibility for administering the SAT suite tests by schools, states, and districts. 

Structure of New Digital SAT

Now, there will be only two modules or sections, i.e., Reading and Writing and Maths. Candidates get an overall 2 hours and 14 minutes to take the test. The reading and writing sections are 64 minutes long, whereas the Math section is 70 minutes long. Both the sections are divided equally. Adding more, candidates get a 10-minute break in between both modules. 


Since the digital SAT completely relies on adaptive testing, the first module carries different difficulty levels, i.e., easy, medium, and hard. In contrast, the difficulty level of the second module is based on the student’s performance in the first module. The shorter passage questions, with every question being discrete, offer students better chances to answer the question. The offline mode with long paragraphs offers long paragraphs with multiple questions associated with them. The inability to grasp one paragraph results in a higher loss of students. 

Removal of Negative Marking 

The offline SAT included negative marking by ¼ point on each wrong answer. The accidental marking of any answer as wrong or deliberately marking the answer without information would lead to a loss of hard-earned marks. With the digital SAT and its new settings, the candidates can attempt any number of questions without the fear of losing the marks. 


The newer system encourages candidates to take risks and attempt the question even if they are secure. They can also attempt the question based on their self-derived logic without doubting themself. Correct answers will award the candidates with marks, but wrong answers will not result in loss. 

Application Features 

The digital SAT taken on the Bluebook application is user-friendly due to its numerous features. The annotation allows highlighting the part of the answer and adding associated notes. It helps in taking notes and acts as an important reminder when you reach back to a specifically highlighted question. The questions can be marked to review, making it easy to reach the answer directly. 


The option elimination feature allows the candidates to practice the option elimination method. They can cut off the options which they think are incorrect. The features help the candidates to focus and choose the correct option. 


The SAT will now be conducted only digitally. The College Board is introducing the online mode of taking the test while offering numerous flexibilities to students, educators, and conducting authori vties. The assessment will mainly be based on the same criteria as the SAT paper. Yet, the changes will make the test interactive, shorter, and more scoring. However, you will need a better approach towards preparation and the right guidance to stay ahead in the exam and score well.

Turito is the leading education-based platform that offers live online classes to students. Here, you will get disciplined, stress-free classes under experienced mentorship to crack competitive exams like NEET, IIT, SAT, PSAT, AP, IELTS, and much more. We provide doubt-solving sessions, study materials, tech-enabled campus, and lesson plans. Turito is tested by many students and their parents, who have also shared their success stories on our website. Join us if you also want to fly high to achieve success in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which countries accept SAT scores?

Countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and others accept SAT scores for admission to educational institutes.

Does SAT offer a fee waiver?

Yes, the candidates are eligible for a fee waiver if they have a low income and are in 11th and 12th grade in the US. The international candidates are also eligible for fee waivers if they meet one or more of the criteria mentioned by the College Board.

Can I take a digital SAT on my device?

Yes, the candidates can take the digital SAT on their own devices. The device must be on the approved list of the College Board. Also, it should have a Bluebook application to take the test.

Is the Digital SAT Harder


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