You may have heard that the College Board is changing the SAT from its current paper version to a purely digital and adaptive version also known as the DSAT. The first DSAT will be offered in March 2024, but sophomores and juniors will be taking a digital PSAT this fall in October 2023. Students will take the test on school-issued laptops or their own devices. Below, we’ve outlined five key things to know about this new version of the exam.
Tip 1: The Digital PSAT is Shorter in Length and Time
While the paper-based PSAT took 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete, the new digital PSAT will be 2 hours and 14 minutes in length. The new test will have 98 questions instead of 137. Instead of four separate sections (Reading, Writing, No-Calculator Math, and Calculator Math), the test will consist of two sections: a Reading and Writing section and a Math section, with a ten-minute break in between. Each section will include two modules, which we will explain further in the next tip.
Tip 2: The Digital PSAT is Adaptive
The Reading and Writing section will be scored out of 760 possible points, as determined by the raw scores (number of questions answered correctly) on the two modules. The Reading and Writing section consists of two modules, each 27 questions and 32 minutes long. However, the adaptive nature of the test means that your performance on one module of the test affects the level of difficulty of the next module. For example, if you score highly on the first module, you’ll receive the more difficult second module, and you’ll have a chance at a 760 on the section. If you receive the less difficult second module, there will be an upper limit to your possible section score (a 760 will not be possible).
The Math section works in much the same way. It consists of two modules, each with 22 questions, and you will have 35 minutes to complete each module. About a quarter of the Math questions require student-produced responses, while all other questions on both sections are multiple choice. As in the Reading and Writing section, your performance on the first module will determine whether you get an easier or harder second module, and it will determine the possible range of your math score. The math section will also be scored out of a possible 760 points, so 1520 is still the top possible score on the digital PSAT.
Tip 3: The Reading and Writing Passages are Shorter
On the digital PSAT, there are no longer any lengthy reading and writing passages with ten or eleven questions referencing the same material. Each question appears with its own passage, ranging in length from 25-150 words. You can highlight portions of the passage with an annotation feature that allows for colored highlighting, underlining, and digital notation like a sticky-note application. Questions will test vocabulary in context, central ideas, text structure, command of evidence, grammar, and punctuation.
Tip 4: A Digital Calculator is Available on all Math Questions
While the paper-based PSAT includes a no-calculator section, the digital PSAT allows you to use your own calculator or an online version of the Desmos graphing calculator on any math question. You can also access a reference sheet for geometry formulas at any time. The Desmos feature will allow you to answer questions in many ways, so you should practice with it often and get to know all its graphing and computing functions. The student-produced response answers are simple to type in, even if the answer is a fraction, decimal, or negative number.
Tip 5: Practice Digital PSATs are available
You can take a practice digital PSAT. You will first need to download the College Board’s bluebook app.
Once you have done that, you will have access to a digital PSAT, as well as 4 sample digital SATs which you can complete at home on your own computer.
Want to know more about the digital PSAT and SAT exams?
For more information on the digital SAT or PSAT, check out our last blog or contact Marks Education to discuss your options. Our team is already administering digital SAT baseline tests for students and working with students to prepare for the DSAT. This fall, we will also debut our own digital platform with practice DSAT tests, score reports, answer explanations, and useful study details.