digital sat
The SATs have now transitioned from a written test to a digital test. Source: Oli Scarff / AFP

Good news for international students: American nonprofit organisation the College Board has opened international registration for the new digital format of the SAT Suite of Assessments.

Back in Jan 2022, the College Board announced the decision to transition towards the digital format of SAT testing. This decision came about with the goal of making the exam easier to take, easier to give and more relevant to students and teachers. 

Along with the opening of registration, the College Board released access to new digital SAT practice sources. This includes an enhanced set of free student- and educator-friendly study tools and practice exams. 

This change is scheduled to roll out internationally in 2023. However, in the US this change will be implemented in 2024. On top of going digital, the exam will be reduced to two hours, replacing the current three-hour time period for the exam. One hour will be shaved off from the reading, writing and math assessment. 

To determine the success of the change, College Board began piloting the new test with students in 2021. This took place in both the US and many other countries.

Students, teachers and administrators all reported the new format met their needs. In fact, it was found that more than 80% of students who had taken the written SAT prior to this reported a better experience with the digital SAT. As a result, the College Board is working to ensure all these students have the tools they need to excel in this new digital format.  

Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board said, “College Board is not only making the SAT more accessible for all students but also offering the necessary resources for them to prepare for and succeed on test day.”

Why the switch to digital?

The SAT is viewed as a critical step to getting into college, a practice that has been ongoing for many years. This major shift in the format from written to digital came about due to the pandemic. According to College Board, these changes were made to address the concerns about access and the lack of equity in the SAT. 

These changes are made in the hope of making the test easier and shorter to narrow the performance gaps and restore the usefulness of the SAT as an assessment for college readiness.

“As a first-generation American and the child of immigrants who came to the U.S. with limited financial resources, I know how the SAT Suite of Assessments opened doors to colleges, scholarships, and educational opportunities that I otherwise never would have known about, or had access to,” shared Rodriguez. 



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What’s changing?

The College Board is taking this opportunity to make this change more than just a change from a paper-and-pencil test to a computer test. Through this change, the SAT will also be improved, making it a better test experience for test takers. 

Aside from a shorter test, shorter reading passages will be used instead of a few long texts.  Students will be able to take the test on their laptops or tablet, as well as a calculator for the math section of the test. 

All students now have access to a wide range of free, high-quality test preparation resources. Four full-length adaptive digital SAT practice tests will be available.

Sample test questions with answer explanations will be available via College Board’s new digital testing app, Bluebook. This custom-built digital testing application for the SAT Suite was created in order to prioritise the skills and knowledge that matter most to students and educators. Students will receive personalised information on how to continue to practice and improve their scores. 

Students can also log on to the free Khan Academy® to practice with digital SAT test questions and receive feedback. In addition to providing test preparation activities, Khan Academy offers students a range of high-quality skill and knowledge-building activities. 

What’s staying the same?

Despite the change, a number of aspects between the written and digital format will remain the same. The test will still be used to measure the knowledge and skills that universities look out for. Scoring will be maintained on a 1600 scale and will be administered in schools or test centres with a proctor present. In an effort to ensure the test remains accessible, it will remain open to all students regardless of their school enrolment status. 

Along with these changes comes the question: “Is the SAT still important to take?” While some might argue otherwise, the SAT is still very much relevant. Putting your achievements into context sets you apart from other applicants and universities are able to see your academic achievements. 

Every year, students from over 200 countries take the SAT to apply for higher education in universities in the US and many other countries across the globe. 

Based on a survey done, 80% of students said they would want the opportunity to submit test scores to colleges. Looking at the class of 2020, nearly 90% of international students had SAT scores that confirmed or exceeded their secondary school GPA. 

Interest in sitting for the digital SAT? International registration for the digital SAT is now open, and the first international exam will take place in March 2023.  

To register for the digital SAT, go to the registration page