Jun 06

Why Summer is the Perfect Time to Prepare for the Digital SAT®

by Trent Baumbach

The NEW Digital SAT 101

Why Summer is the Perfect Time to Prepare For Digital SAT®


Between challenging academic schedules, extracurricular activities, and spending time with family and friends, the school year is extremely busy for high school students. On top of this, once students begin preparing for college admissions, standardized tests, and college applications can feel like an unbearable weight.

That’s where thoughtfully planning out your summer is key.

Many international students opt to study for exams like the Digital SAT® during the summer, in order to get ahead while time is more flexible. Since the Digital SAT® is often viewed as “an opportunity for students to show colleges they’re ready to succeed on campus” (College Board), students must dedicate an appropriate amount of time to studying for the test. 

That study time pays off, too. A study by Kaplan Test Prep found that students who spend at least 20 hours preparing for the SAT® score an average of 115 points higher than those who don’t.

Here are 6 compelling reasons why students should utilize their summer to prepare for the SAT® exam and improve their SAT® scores.

Do you want to improve your chances of getting into a top-tier university? Schedule your consultation with Tokyo Academics today!

6 reasons students should use their summer to study for the Digital SAT®

  1. Open Schedules

With summer break comes the freedom to spend each day as you please. Without the interruption of school, students can dedicate time to studies outside of day-to-day graded schoolwork. Practice truly does make perfect, and dedicating ample time to the Digital SAT® during the summer can lead to an improvement in average SAT® scores without compromising regular academic efforts.

  2. Less Stress

Studying for the SAT® exam during the school year can exacerbate stress levels for some students. The school year is filled with deadlines and commitments, and adding SAT® prep to the mix can be overwhelming. Shifting the heavy lifting of SAT® study to the summer can alleviate the pressure during the school year.

  3. Greater Breadth

When students are preoccupied with the constant swirl of schoolwork, it can feel like there’s only time to focus on certain study areas. Some students may even opt to just take SAT® practice tests, without a thoughtful study plan. During summer though, students can channel their undivided attention into SAT® preparation to first gain a solid understanding of the Digital SAT® test format and all content areas, and then focus on areas they need to make the greatest improvement.

  4. Time to Adjust to the New Digital Format

Starting in 2024, the College Board will shift to the new Digital SAT® format worldwide; however, this rollout began in 2023 for students outside of the US. This means that in addition to studying SAT® Math and SAT® Reading & Writing content, international school students must also put time into familiarizing themselves with the new Digital SAT® format. By taking the time to prepare over the summer, students can get used to the new test-taking process first and then focus on proper studying.

  5. College Application Advantage

By focusing on SAT® prep during the summer, students can take the SAT® earlier and get their score sooner. If students are content with their score, they will have more free time to dedicate to other aspects of their college applications. They can also include their score when applying early for their dream school. The early admission rates of top universities like Brown, Cornell, and Duke are ~3x higher than the overall admission rate (IvyWise), so if you get your ideal Digital SAT® score early, it may be right for you!

  6. Opportunities to Retest

Starting SAT® preparation in the summer provides a safety net. If students take the SAT® early but are not satisfied with their score, they still have the opportunity to retake the test without delaying their college applications. Plus, by putting in the hard work to prepare during the summer, students will already be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to attain a high score, even if they take the exam later.

What’s different about the Digital SAT® from the old version?

Familiarizing yourself with the exam format is the first step in successful Digital SAT® preparation. Keep these points in mind as you strategize and plan your summer study schedule.

  • Duration and Format: While the paper and pencil SAT® is 3 hours 15 minutes long, the Digital SAT® is  2 hours 24 minutes, including a 10-minute break.
  • Flexibility and Accessibility: The frequency of test dates is increased and test times are more flexible. Students can bring their own laptops or tablets for the exam, though loaner devices may be available on request. Please note that the Digital SAT® must be taken at an authorized College Board testing location, not at home.
  • Internet Access: The digital exam requires internet access, but in case of a computer crash, power loss, or internet connection drop, the time will resume from where the student left off.
  • New Structure: The new digital SAT® consists of only two sections – a combined Reading & Writing section, and a Math section. There are two modules for each section, with the difficulty level of the second module being determined by a student’s performance on the first.
  • Question Count: The two Reading & Writing modules have 27 questions lasting 32 minutes each, while the two Math modules have 22 questions, with a duration of 35 minutes each. 
  • Scoring Timeframe: Scores are released within days rather than weeks, accelerating the feedback process.
  • Test Features: Students have options to Mark for Review, Annotate, and Zoom, directly in the digital test interface. There will also be a countdown timer and a reference page featuring relevant math formulas.
  • Calculator Use: All math questions will allow calculator use. Students can either use the on-screen Desmos calculator or bring their own authorized calculator.
  • Adaptive Testing: The Digital SAT® utilizes a unique type of adaptive testing in which the first module is the same for all students, while the second module is delivered from two options based on performance in module one. This change makes cheating, test leaks, and answer sharing significantly more difficult.
  • Content Changes: The Reading & Writing section features shorter excerpts from a wider variety of sources. Instead of five lengthy passages with multiple questions each, the section will have paragraph-style sections with one question associated with each piece. The Math section remains largely unchanged from a content perspective.

For more information, please see our blogs “The New Digital SAT®” and “Digital SAT® and PSAT: Everything You Need To Know.”

What should international school students who want to prepare for the Digital SAT® do next?

Make the most of your summer break by preparing for the Digital SAT®.

Tokyo Academics offers one-on-one tutoring, group classes, and admissions consulting services ideal for students preparing for the Digital SAT®. Please click the link below to meet our expert tutors who can help you learn how to prepare for the SAT® and ace it!

SAT® is a trademark owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse Tokyo Academics.

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