SAT Suite

What is Digital SAT Adaptive Testing?

The SAT® and PSAT-related assessments are going fully digital. As part of that shift, the tests will also be adaptive.  In adaptive testing, the questions you encounter as you move through the test depend on how you answered the prior questions. You may be familiar with adaptive testing—most digital assessments are adaptive, including many state assessments you take in school.


What type of adaptive testing is the digital SAT Suite of Assessments?

There are two primary types of adaptive testing. With question-level adaptive testing (you may have heard of Smarter Balanced or MAP assessments, which are like this), each question you answer depends on how you answered the prior question.  With multistage adaptive testing, you answer sets of questions, and each set depends on how you performed on the prior set.

The SAT and PSAT-related assessments use a multistage adaptive design. Each test section (Reading and Writing, and Math) is divided into two equal-length, separately timed parts called modules. You’ll answer a set of questions in the first module before moving on to the next. The questions you’re given in the second module depend on how you performed on the first module.

Here are three important reasons multistage adaptive design means a better test experience for you.

  1. The same knowledge and skills can be accurately measured much faster. For the SAT, that’s just over 2 hours instead of 3.
  2. Unlike most question level adaptive tests, you can jump back and forth between questions in a module, previewing upcoming questions or marking earlier questions to return to if you have time. Remember: there’s no penalty for guessing. It’s better to answer every question the best you can.
  3. This format doesn't require continuous connection to the internet during testing.  If you lose your internet connection during testing, you can continue testing without disruption.


How will I be routed between modules?

The first module in each section (Reading and Writing, Math) includes half the questions for the section and consists of a broad mix of easy, medium, and hard questions across a range of domains.

Depending on how you answer the questions in the first module, you'll be routed to a second module, which has a different mix of difficulty levelsThe mix of questions in the second module is, on average, either of higher difficulty or of lower difficulty than that in the first module.

Once you’ve answered the questions in the second module, you’ll have your section score calculated based on your performance across all questions in both modules.


Will I be disadvantaged if I get easier questions in the second module?

You won’t be disadvantaged. You’ll be presented with questions tailored for your abilities. You won’t be presented with questions that are much too hard or much too easy. You can be confident that you're going to end up with an accurate score. Your score will reflect your achievement and skills based on your answers to questions in both modules.

Think of it this way: to get a 1600 on the paper and pencil SAT, you must answer every single question correctly (which is extremely rare, by the way). If you get even a couple questions wrong during any part of the test, there’s no chance you’ll score a perfect 1600. The same principle applies for multistage adaptive digital assessments. If you get a couple questions wrong on the first module, scoring an 800 for the section won’t be possible even if you get every answer right in the second module. No matter which module you’re routed to, the most important thing to keep in mind is to do your best. Your score will be accurate, and you won’t get a lower score just because you saw a lower difficulty set of questions.


How can I improve my score on the digital SAT?

College Board provides everything you need to prepare for the digital SAT, including free practice tests and a checklist of what to bring on test day. Click here to access practice resources for the digital SAT.