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With the introduction of an all-digital SAT in March 2024, the college prep test is undergoing its biggest transformation in history. What do the changes mean for your high schooler? Here’s what the experts have to say:

The test will be about an hour shorter with shorter reading and writing passages, but that doesn’t mean it will be easier. “Since there are fewer questions, students will need to make each question really count so they can maximize their score,” says Brian W. Stewart, author of Barron’s Digital SAT Study Guide Premium, 2024.

The new SAT will be adaptive, which means it will get easier or harder based on a student’s performance. “Those likely to score high will not need to slog through easy questions and those likely to score in the mid to lower range won’t need to be daunted and disheartened by questions they don’t understand,” says Bara Sapir, founder of citytestprep.com and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Test Prep Association.

Pranoy Mohapatra, founder and director of PMTutoring LLC in Old Bridge and founder of the National Test Prep Association, suggests students should not even think about the test being adaptive. “The goal is to do the best they can and avoid worrying about the format and the modules,” says Mohapatra.

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Students should prepare for the new SAT by taking digital practice tests. It’s important to get comfortable with the new testing format and embedded calculator and timer. “The College Board has a free application called Bluebook that students can download to try the adaptive tests for free,” says Stewart. Students can download a free sample Barron’s e-book with a full-length practice test at barronseduc.com. The PSAT will also be offered in digital form this October. Experts say most students find starting to prep about 3-6 months in advance of the test works well.

For some students, it may make more sense to take the paper SAT this year. “If a student is ready to test now, waiting until March 2024 to take the new test doesn’t make sense, even if the shorter, digital version appeals to them,” says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, president and chief educational consultant of One- Stop College Counseling in Marlboro. “If a student waits until March and isn’t happy with their score, the next administration is in May when many students are busy with AP or IB exams which is not ideal timing.”

If your teen isn’t comfortable with the digital format, they should consider taking the ACT, which is an on-paper test.

The Current SAT:
Is approximately 3 hours in length
Is paper-based for all students
Has a sample test booklet for multiple students
For Reading, there are passages up to 750 words with multiple questions per passage
For Math, there is a no-calculator section and longer word problems

The New SAT:
Will be 2+ hours in length
Be computer or tablet-based for all students
Be section-adaptive based on student performance
For Reading, there will be passages of no more than 150 words, with one question per passage
For Math, there will be more concise word problems and a permitted calculator section

Source: Barron’s

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