Feb 01

Everything You Need to Know to Crush Your 2024 Digital SAT

The SAT is an essential part of your college admissions journey, and it’s no wonder many students are feeling the pressure, especially with so many big changes to this year’s exam. By the Spring of 2024, every student will be taking a brand new digital version of the SAT that will require different study methods than the paper version most are already familiar with. It can all seem a little overwhelming, but not to worry, because we have everything you need to know to ace your SAT! We’ll take you step by step and give you all the info you need to get the best score possible.

So, why is the College Board changing the format of the test? 

The College Board believes that their changes to the SAT will make it more accessible, streamlined, and relevant to how students study in the digital age. The world’s changed a lot since a certain global virus, and the way we learn has dramatically shifted to prioritize online and digital studies – and with almost two million students taking the SAT, ensuring that it is as fair, easy to use, and comprehensible is their top priority.

Although many students think that the SAT has become less important with some schools listing it as “optional,” it’s still a critical part of application screenings. Schools that previously lightened the weight of SAT scores in their evaluations, such as MIT, are now beginning to lean back into it.

But what actually makes the new digital SAT different from the old one?

First, the good news: the new digital SAT is a full hour shorter than its predecessor, making it only a little over two hours in length.

Other changes:

  • Instead of having four sections (Reading, Writing, Math (No Calculator) and Math (Calculator), there are now only two: Reading & Writing, and Math. 
  • Each section is divided into 2 equal length “modules.” The difficulty of the second module will be determined by how well you perform in the first half. For example, if you do well on the first reading and writing module, you will receive a more difficult second module. If you don’t do well, the second module will be composed of easier questions. 
  • The first module is always composed of a mix of easy, medium, and hard questions.
  • You’ll be able to use a calculator, either a handheld calculator you can bring on test day, or Desmos, which is built into Blue Book, the digital application you’ll use to take the test. 
  • The “No Calculator” section has been completely removed. 
  • International students will be able to take the test as many as seven times a year, and on top of that, you’ll be getting your results back in just a matter of days instead of weeks! 

Another large change will be the introduction new question types. For the first time, question categories like “Words in Context” and “Rhetorical Synthesis” have been added. With all of that said, the scoring will remain the same. Everyone will be marked out of a possible 1600 points.

With the test being 100% online, you’ll no longer be able to take the test with just paper and pencil. Starting this year (2024) everyone will be required to use an Apple or Windows laptop or tablet brought from home to take the test (or one provided to test-takers by the College Board on the day of the test). There will be no option to take the test from home. One major constant is that you’ll still need to go to a College Board certified test center to take the SAT.

And what does this mean for international students?

Although it can be especially stressful to take the SAT when you’re not actually located in the United States due to constraints like limited test centers and registration concerns, you might find that the Digital SAT makes things easier than ever before. The rollout of the new Digital SAT will be more or less the same no matter where you are in the world, and the official test dates and registration deadlines are the same whether you’re in Tennessee or Tokyo. But if you’re a US citizen taking the test overseas, keep in mind that it’s still required that you bring your official passport as your form of ID.

Here are the test dates and registration deadlines the 2024 SAT so far: 

Test Date Registration Deadline Changes & Late Registration
March 9, 2024 February 23, 2024 February 27, 2024
May 4, 2024 April 19, 2024 April 23, 2024
June 1, 2024 May 16, 2024 May 21, 2024
*August 24, 2024 TBD TBD
*October 5, 2024 TBD TBD
*November 2, 2024 TBD TBD
*December 7, 2024 TBD TBD

What do I have to prepare for the new version of the test?

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself what all these changes mean when it comes to getting ready for the test. Just because the exam is shorter and somewhat simplified doesn’t mean you should take it any less seriously. In fact, it’s imperative now more than ever to think through each step of your preparation process well ahead of time so that you can be as ready as possible when it comes time to sit down for your SAT. 

With that said, ensuring your success is simple if you follow these three steps:

  1. Set Clear Goals

It might seem obvious, but one of the most important actions you can take in preparing for your SAT is knowing what score you’re aiming for. You’ll want to know your top choice of universities and what the SAT scores of their incoming students look like. Websites like Princeton Review, CollegeBoard, and USNews are great resources that list the range of average scores for a variety of universities, and using these benchmarks, you can figure out exactly what score you should be reaching for to increase your chances at admission. 

The best way to think of SAT scores in relation to university admissions is to think of it in percentiles. A percentile is basically just a way of describing your score in comparison to that of other students – for example, a student in the 25th percentile only scored higher than 25% of other students and a student in the 75th percentile scored higher than 75%. So be sure to set your goals accordingly.

  1. Understand Your Weaknesses

Your next step is to identify what areas will require the most improvement. To do that, you’ll need to take a practice version of the test, which has been made easier than ever! With the introduction of the 2024 Digital SAT, you’ll be able to do several official practice tests through the Bluebook app – the same application you’ll use to take the actual test as well. 

Since this is a never-before-seen version of the exam, it’s best you stick to official practice tests for now – as older paper based ones won’t quite align with what this year’s test is going to look like. 

Using the results from these practice tests, you can establish what we like to call a baseline score – in other words, what you would receive on your SAT if you were to sit down and take the real test now. Take a look at where your baseline score is lacking, what your weakest subjects are, and then start spending your study hours honing in on the sections of the test that are dragging you down. If you go the extra mile on your problem areas, you’ll find your overall score significantly improved. 

  1. Make Your Battle Plan

Now that you know where to assign the most focus, it’s time to create a strategic plan of action to get your scores up to snuff. For some students, this might mean putting in a few extra hours of study every week and for others, it might mean putting in an extra hour or two everyday! You can expect that the more points you want to add to your score, the more hours you’ll need to devote to studying the material.

Take a look at our general recommendations for how many hour you might need to boost your total score:

Desired Outcome Time Required
~50 point improvement 20+ hours of study
100~200 point improvement 40+ hours of study
200~300 point improvement 80+hours of study

At the end of the day, every student is different and the time spent studying alone isn‘t enough to guarantee you a perfect score. But don’t stress! Focusing on your problem areas, budgeting your time, and holistically approaching the material will get you where you want to be. There’s still plenty of time to get your ducks in a row for this season’s round of tests. 

No doubt the SAT can produce a lot of anxiety and dread for students no matter where they are. But think of it as your opportunity to show off all your hard work, willingness to grind and your ability to apply knowledge from all your schooling thus far, and, above all else, show the school of your dreams exactly what you’re made of!

Need Peace of Mind for the SAT?

Tokyo Academics’ Digital SAT tutoring services are your gateway to mastering the SAT, offering personalized guidance and proven test-taking strategies from tutors from prestigious institutions such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, and NYU. Our innovative approach is designed not only to elevate your SAT scores but also to optimize your study time, ensuring you make the most significant improvements in the shortest period possible. Partner with Tokyo Academics and embark on a transformative learning journey that accelerates your path to success, paving the way to the university of your dreams.

Contact us at support@tokyoacademics.com to schedule a free trial, or jump into one of our SAT Group Classes by following the link below.