SAT Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the major changes to the 2023 SAT?
A: The most important change to the 2023 SAT is the start of the transition from a paper-and-pencil test to a digital test. This transition will begin in 2023 for international students and in 2024 for students in the United States. In addition to being taken completely on a computer or tablet, the 2023 SAT will feature the following:
Shorter testing time: The SAT will decrease from 3 hours in length to 2 hours in length.
Calculator usage: A calculator will be permitted on the entire Math section. Students may bring approved calculators or use the calculator that will be embedded in the digital version of the exam.
Shorter reading passages.
Scores: Scores will be available in just a few days after a student has taken the SAT as opposed to the weeks currently required for score turnaround and reporting.
The SAT will continue to be taken at a high school or testing center, and registration will still be required. The exam will continue to be scored on a 1600-point scale.
Q: Why has the College Board switched to a digital version of the test?
A: According to the College Board, a digital version of the exam has been under consideration and in development for years. In 2021, the first digital SAT was piloted in the United States and internationally, and 80% of students reported that they found it less stressful than a paper-and-pencil version. Additionally, 100% of educators reported having a positive experience. The College Board announced that using a digital version of the test will make the test both easier to take and a better fit for today’s students.
Another additional benefit of using a digital version of the SAT is increased test security. Currently, if one test form is compromised, it can require canceling scores for entire groups of students. By using a digital version of the test, every student can receive a unique test form, making the test more secure in addition to making it virtually impossible for students to share answers or otherwise cheat.
Q: Do these changes impact student preparation?
A: Students are still encouraged to develop a consistent study routine, whether on their own, working one-on-one with a tutor, or participating in a classroom-style prep course. The overall content of the 2023 SAT has not changed, and students will still be assessed on two sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Students are encouraged to ensure the materials they are using to prepare for the exam address these areas and are not out-of-date or applicable to parts of the SAT that have been discontinued, like the Essay section.
Q: What are the differences between the 2023 SAT and the ACT?
A: The two tests evaluate many of the same skills, and most universities that require an admissions test will accept either the SAT or the ACT. However, the content and purpose of the tests differ in some respects. The most important content distinction is the fact that the ACT has a dedicated science section, while the 2023 SAT evaluates analytical abilities in science primarily through the assessment of other skills. The stated purpose of the ACT is to measure "academic achievement," while the SAT is intended to assess "reasoning abilities." SAT proponents therefore argue that their preferred test is a superior indicator of student potential, but this is (of course) disputed by ACT advocates. Students are always encouraged to complete a practice version of both the SAT and the ACT and move forward with whatever test they performed better on.
Q: I live outside of the United States. Can I take the 2023 SAT overseas?
A: Absolutely. The test has long been offered in numerous other countries, and this will not change. See the College Board website for specific policies by country.
Q: How is the 2023 SAT written and developed?
A: The SAT is written by subject-matter experts and then reviewed by committees of high school teachers and college professors.
Q: What are the College Board's privacy policies?
A: Federal law protects student data, and these laws broadly apply to SAT scores. The College Board will generally not disclose your SAT scores without your permission, although there are exceptions to this policy for purposes such as research or educational adminisration. In those cases, data is usually given without identifying students by name.
Q: How many times am I allowed to take the SAT?
A: The College Board has no official policies limiting retakes. This means that students are only limited by the number of times the test is offered. Students commonly take the SAT in the spring of their junior year, and often again in the fall of their senior year. Students should check with the institutions to which they are applying for appropriate policies. Some schools consider only the highest score, while others consider the average score of all test attempts.
Q: What do I need to know about test security, fairness, and academic honesty?
A: The College Board works diligently to ensure security for the test, which helps promote fairness by preventing advance knowledge of test passages, questions, and answers. Security measures include offline test creation and storage, secure transportation of test materials, and various policies while taking the test. During the test's administration, students are not allowed to leave the testing center, are not allowed to use electronic devices, are not allowed to share answers, and are not allowed to take the test on behalf of someone else. Violations of these policies result in cancellation of scores and (if any applicable laws have been broken) possible prosecution.