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Learnings from the First Administration of the Digital SAT

dsat sat Apr 25, 2023

By Kevin Organisciak

The College Board made a significant change to the format of the SAT test by introducing the digital SAT for students outside of the United States. Although there were a few glitches along the way, the first administration of the digital SAT was a success, and the feedback from stakeholders has been positive overall. Here's what we learned from the first administration of the digital SAT. 

We surveyed over 200 international students who took the test as well as testing coordinators and college counselors.

Feedback from Sonya Muthalia, a tutor who had over 200 students sit for the dSAT in March 2023.

  • Administration
    It was smoother than expected, barring a few glitches of the system. The glitches were either while logging in with the test code or while submitting the score. The proctors were very helpful and the issue was sorted in a short period of time.
  • Proctoring
    The CB has trained the proctors very well. The proctors were well informed of the entire system of the test and were helpful when the students had a problem. The CB last year launched the Test Day Toolkit, it’s an app that is used by all proctors. It helps in generating the seating chart, the test codes, the proctor can see the question wise progress of each student and when there is a tech issue, the proctor feeds it in this app and has a solution ready in most cases.
  • Pilot DSAT
    CB has anticipated most of the testing glitches and tech issues. This is mainly due to the various pilot DSATs that it has conducted over the last six months.
  • Strategies we need to teach
    The students need to pace themselves well specially in the second module. The students didn’t expect the diff level of the second module and went about their timing as per the first module, this resulted in some having a problem in finishing the second module.
    Use the tools provided on screen. Practice with these tools during practice mocks.
  • Desmos skills
    Learning the Desmos is essential and its use is necessary as nearly 40% of the Math questions can be solved quickly with the correct calculator skills.
  • Practice
    This format can be mastered with the correct kind of practice and prep. Bluebook tests and any other material which will give the same looks and feel as the real tests.

Feedback from Tutors:

  • The digital roll-out was successful due to the College Board's ability to take note of experiences from other computer-based tests and apply that knowledge.
  • The new section-adaptive format, embedded experimental questions, and varying weight of questions could present new challenges for students when it comes to testing anxiety.
  • The variation in questions can include not only their order, but also the answer choice order.

More Feedback from Students:

  • The difficulty level of questions seemed to be harder than what was found in the Collegeboard practice tests.
  • The official score report is vague with no way to determine exactly how many questions the student got wrong.
  • Students who had taken a paper SAT previously may find the format and question changes challenging.
  • Navigating the integrated Demos calculator was particularly important for the Math section.
  • About 50% of all the math problems could have been solved with the calculator.

Overall, the first administration of the digital SAT was a success, with stakeholders providing positive feedback. It appears that calculator fluency may play a greater role in future student success but it is too soon to say with certainty. While there are changes to the format and question types, the new digital SAT is still a well-established test that students can prepare for with fresh strategies and support.


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