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Details on the NEW Digital SAT

The digital SAT, offered by the College Board, has been in it's new format internationally since March 2023. Over the last year we have heard mixed reviews from our students, some saying it's more difficult than the paper version and others thinking it's easier. What we do know is that time management in the test is paramount.

This is the third redesign of the SAT in the last eight years. During this time, the competing test, the ACT has been redesigned only once, in 2016, when it moved to a computer adaptive testing model. The ACT has no plans to change their test currently, which is a relief for future test takers.

Pre-COVID, the SAT or ACT test was required as part of the application requirements to most US universities. The pandemic forced universities to reconsider this requirement as testing dates became cancelled due to the pandemic. As a result, most universities moved to what is called a test-optional policy allowing students the option, but not the requirement, to submit test scores. Additional context on the test-optional landscape for admissions can be found here.

The SAT is made up of two sections: Reading and Writing and Maths. Each section is divided into two equal length modules. The first module of each section contains a mix of easy to more difficult questions. Students performance on the first module of each section will determine the difficulty of the second (adaptive).

NEW Digital SAT


Allotted Time (Hrs)



Score Range

Composite 400 – 1600 total

Two sections: Math and Evidence Based Reading and Writing, each made up of 800 points

Composite 1 – 36 total

1-36 on each of the 4 sections: math, science, English, reading

Overall composite is the average of the 4 sections

Delivery Mode

Computer based, multiple choice A-D

Computer based, multiple choice A-E

Reading and Writing Timing

64 minutes

80 minutes total.

English: 45 minutes

Reading: 35 minutes

Reading and Writing Format

54 multiple choice questions, each with a very short passage

2 modules with a short pause in between

Reading and Writing are intermixed

English: 5 long passages with 75 questions

Reading: 4 long passages with 40 questions

Math Timing

70 minutes

60 minutes

Calculator Use/Format

Approved calculators or built in calculators can be used on all math questions. Forty-four math questions in total.

Approved calculators can be used on all math questions. Sixty math questions in total.


Reading, writing and math questions will continue to ask students to interpret graphs

35 minutes

6 long passages with graphs and 40 questions (scored separately)


Yes, the second stage of each subject test will be adapted based on the first stage’s responses


Number of test dates per year



Average score across all test takers

1028 (out of 1600) This is an average of international students only.

21 (out of 36)

Study Resources

From end of (US) summer 2022

Test Registration




Which test should I take?

US universities admissions teams have no preference on which test a student sit. Internationally Educated encourages students to sit (free and on their own time) trial tests of both the SAT and ACT to determine if one test suits them better. Once determined, test takers can sit either test more than once. Australian-educated students who have undertaken an academically rigorous course load should have no trouble scoring well on either test despite coming from a different education system. However, test preparation is recommended for all students, regardless of their secondary school performance.

The limited SAT international testing dates available in Sydney may deter students based on testing date opportunities. That said, the ACT is the preferred standardised test by students in the US and the SAT is the preferred standardised test by students outside of the US. As the two tests measure much of the same content, the decision on which test to sit may now be a result of personal preference combined with test date convenience.

The digital SAT, although a shorter test (just over 2 hours) and an adaptive test, is said to measure the same outcomes as the previous 3 hour paper based SAT. For this reason, the College Board is confident a concordance table will not be required and the same score across either test should be evaluated equally.

Full sample tests of the Digital SAT are available by downloading the Bluebook app and enter your College Board account information. Further information is available in an article we wrote here.

As with much of the US university admission process, there is not one answer to suit everyone but rather each students’ circumstances are different. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in achieving your US university admission goals.

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