Better the Digital Devil You Know?


As we all would agree, standardized tests such as the SAT are evil incarnate, the veritable spawn of Satan, and perhaps the most egregious blow to fairness in admissions since.... Ha ha ha! That was all tongue-in-cheek: I am a man who sells test prep for a living. Of course I don't think tests are bad.

And I'm not the only one - we're seeing more and more competitive colleges release data that, despite the fact that most schools are still "test optional", most accepted applicants did submit an SAT or ACT score. Admissions officers are openly(!) acknowledging what we've been observing for years: grade inflation is real, and more objective measures, like AP tests and SAT scores, are increasingly important.

But what about the new "Digital" SAT? If you've just woken up from your long winter's nap, it's 2024, and the March SAT and every SAT thereafter will be taken on a computer or similar device. 

One thing Blake, Matt, and I have been thinking about is how to advise kids who want to prepare for, and take, the Digital SAT. Is the new test similar to the current paper SAT? If you have paper SAT experience, is it better to deal with the devil you know than perhaps to try the ACT instead?

Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. No colleges prefer a particular test; they all will consider either an SAT or ACT score.
  2. There is way, way more official practice material for the ACT.
  3. The Digital SAT doesn't easily allow you to mark up the test, underline, etc. This can make reading passages a bit more difficult. It's also a little harder to read from a screen than from a printed page.
  4. Since the test is new, it's probably got some kinks to work out. When the SAT changed to its most recent format in 2016, the practice material and the first few released SAT tests were pretty inconsistent, which made it harder to prepare for at first.
  5. Vocabulary is a bigger factor on the new SAT.

With that said, there is a lot to like about the new test - mainly, that it's much shorter - clocking in at about two hours. For much more about the Digital SAT, check out our tutoring page for the test. Scroll down past the pictures of the distractingly handsome tutors there, and we've got lots of info.

The Bottom Line

If your kid is considering the Digital SAT, be aware of some of the drawbacks of preparing for the new test. It's not simply a short version of the paper SAT. And it's possible that the ACT is a better option, even if you've already taken the SAT.

If you want to chat about your situation, feel free to call or text Blake or Matt directly, or send us an email.

Questions For Discussion

1. When's the last time you used the phrase "evil incarnate" (talking about your ex doesn't count)?

2. By what date would you have stopped mistakenly writing 2023 on checks (if you still wrote checks)?

3. What are some other digital products or services that make you wish you could go back to their paper versions?

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