The Digital SAT: A Strategy Guide For the Class of 2025

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Starting in March 2024, the SAT is switching to a shorter, denser, computer-adaptive online test, replacing the current paper version of the SAT.  For more information on the new version of the test, check out our blog on the new digital SAT.  Read the following FAQs if you are a current US high school student.

What does this mean for test takers in the United States?

If you’re in the class of 2024, the digital SAT will not be available before the application process begins, so you will choose between the current paper SAT and the ACT.

If you’re in the class of 2026, the paper test will be discontinued before your testing window begins. Therefore, you will choose between the digital SAT and the ACT.

If you’re in the class of 2025, you’ll have to navigate the transition from the paper SAT to the digital test. It can be difficult to know what to do for admissions testing. Should you try to rush to prepare for the paper SAT and hope to be finished with testing before the new digital SAT replaces the paper version next year? Should you wait for the digital test and take that? Should you take both? Should you just take the ACT instead? Making the best decision will require careful consideration and planning. Don’t worry– we’re here to help! See our tips below for more information on how to choose the best test for you.

Class of 2025: Should you choose the paper SAT?

When considering whether to take a paper SAT, you may be surprised to know that we first recommend taking a proctored practice ACT. Your practice ACT score can be helpful in deciding if the paper SAT is worth your time. For example, if you score a 27 or above on the practice ACT, the paper SAT might be right for you (see next paragraph for more details). If you score below a 27 (roughly equivalent to a 1280 on the SAT), you will probably not be ready to finish with standardized tests in the fall of junior year. As a result, it is unlikely that taking the paper SAT this year would be worth it, and you should plan to take a practice digital SAT baseline to compare with your ACT baseline.

If you do earn a baseline ACT score of 27 or higher, then you might be a good candidate to do your standardized test prep early and finish with testing before the end of the fall of junior year. Your next step will be to take a practice paper SAT to compare that score with your baseline ACT score. (Note that if you took the sophomore PSAT in October 2023, that score is likely too old for this determination). Looking at your baseline SAT, if you scored the equivalent of more than 1 ACT point or 30-40 SAT points higher than on your practice ACT, it is probably worth it for you to prepare for and take the paper SAT this year.  Plan to start studying over the summer and take the official paper-based SAT at least twice before the final administration of the paper test on December 2, 2023.

If the paper SAT doesn’t look like the best option, what are the next steps?

Download the Blue Book Software from the College board and take a fully timed baseline practice Digital SAT under realistic conditions (i.e. no breaks in the middle of or between sections other than the 10 minute break at the halfway point). If you scored the equivalent of more than 1 ACT point or 30-40 SAT points higher than on your practice ACT, it is probably worth it for you to prepare for and take the digital SAT.  Plan to start your preparation in the fall of junior year in October or November. Then, plan to take the digital SAT for the first time in March 2024 and retake in either May or June.

If you didn’t get a meaningfully higher score on the digital SAT, what should you do next?

Plan to take the ACT. It is a more familiar test overall, has much more available practice material, and offers more flexibility in terms of when you take the test. This will likely be the best option for most students in the class of 2025.


Whatever your college admissions journey looks like, we are here to help and offer strategic advice for every step along the way. Contact Marks Education to set up a free consultation with a tutor and get more individualized recommendations for your test preparation.

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