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Important Questions to Ask Teachers for Digital SAT Test Prep

The best way to prep for the new SAT (or any exam) is by asking questions. And you know who are great resources for questions? Your teachers. Get asking!

With the SAT moving to a fully online format and the ACT allowing for a choice between a digital and paper test in 2024, the state of standardized testing for high schoolers is more perplexing than ever. Nonetheless, the importance of these exams is still essential to college admission, with more and more colleges reverting from test-optional policies back to mandatory ones. To help you maximize your test-taking abilities for a future exam, you should consult your teachers as a resource and learning tool. Here are some questions to ask them as you prep for the new digital SAT.

Digital SAT overview

While the SAT has switched to an all-digital format, the test still must be completed in person at a testing center—not at home. The new SAT is formatted as an adaptive test, meaning each module’s level of difficulty will adjust based on your performance in the previous module. The overall duration of the digital SAT is approximately two hours and 14 minutes, making it shorter than the previous three-hour paper format. This reduction in test time aims to create a more streamlined testing experience. Here’s how the sections break down in the new digital format:

  • Mathematics: The Math section is relatively similar to the previous format, except now a calculator can be used for both 35-minute Math sections. In addition to your own handheld calculator, the College Board will provide you with an online calculator tool called Desmos. Based on your performance in the first section, the second Math section will adapt its difficulty level to your responses. A higher performance on the first Math section constitutes a harder second section and vice versa, which also affects scoring.
  • Reading and Writing: The Reading and Writing portions of the SAT have undergone more significant changes through the digital transition. Instead of separate sections for reading comprehension and grammar, there are now two 32-minute sections comprising both elements. Both sections require you to demonstrate reading comprehension and grammar in an adaptive format just like the Math portion. Additionally, there are no more long passages for these combined sections. Instead, each question will be accompanied by its own short passage. 

Related: Unlocking the SAT: 3 Keys to Easily Boost Your Scores

SAT questions to ask your teachers

As much as you’d like to tackle this academic challenge on your own, I encourage you to use your resources and reach out for help. With the basics of the digital SAT covered, here are some questions you can ask your teachers to maximize your SAT study prep and scores:

  • How can I best manage the time crunch of the four SAT sections? You might be nervous about having less time to complete the test. When discussing this with your teachers, be sure to give special attention to the adaptability factor of each segment’s second section, as potentially harder questions can account for more challenging time constraints.
  • What grammar rules must I know for the SAT? This question is great to pose to any English and Language Arts teachers to maximize your performance on the Writing sections. To help your teachers generate the most effective answers, give them some of your writing samples to showcase which grammar topics you may struggle with.
  • What can I do to read faster and retain more throughout the SAT? With the new format eliminating long passages, the importance of reading takes on a new role. Instead of reading one passage and answering around a dozen questions about it, the new SAT requires you to read a new passage for every question. This makes fast reading and information retention essential for every minute of the Reading and Writing sections.
  • How should I balance my use of mental math, the Desmos calculator, and my own calculator? The balance between mental math and the calculator has always been an important factor in the SAT, but with the digital SAT allowing a calculator for both Math sections, this question becomes even harder to answer. The Desmos calculator has capabilities that many handheld calculators do not, especially with its easy graphing methods, but it lacks certain functions of handheld calculators such as nSolve. Additionally, incorrect calculator inputs can cost you points all over the test, emphasizing the benefits of figuring out a math problem on a piece paper by hand.  

Related: What Are Good SAT or ACT Scores for Getting Into College?

Consulting teachers is a great avenue for SAT and ACT prep. With the lack of resources available due to the new online versions of these standardized tests, the consistency in teachers' advice is especially appealing. Nonetheless, a combination of tools for studying for the SAT, such as advice from teachers compounded with either study books or review courses, is still the most effective way to prepare. 

We have a lot more tips where these came from to help you get through any exam or assignment with Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests. Be sure to bookmark this great resource!

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About Justin Mathew

Justin Mathew is an academically successful student at Shadow Creek High School in Texas. As a high-achiever and avid chess player with a Class B rating, Justin is president of both the Mu Alpha Theta and Chess Club chapters at his school. He also enjoys basketball, NFL statistics, and playing the piano. At the age of seven, he was featured as a kid inventor and presented the No Sweat-SweatShirt on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. After high school, Justin plans to pursue a career in the mathematics field.


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