Before I begin, a big shout out for letting me know the Official SAT Digital Practice Tests were LIVE on the College Board website to Kathi Wells-Macomber, former co-owner and now affiliated partner business (Check her out at Test Wise Tutoring!). I cannot thank you enough!
Welp, I just finished my first Digital SAT practice test. Here are my initial impressions.
1) Familiarity with the BLUEBOOK app the College Board (the organization responsible for the SAT) is key. On test day, you want to spend your time reading excerpts, questions, and answers, not fumbling around, wasting time and magnifying frustration. It’s going to take some practice for you to navigate the system like a pro. I did the untimed practice questions before Practice Test #1 so I could feel relatively fluent with the interface. I think it will take me another few tests to really feel comfortable with it.
2) Familiarity with the instructions, similarly, is key. Time starts when you click START, and then the instructions pop up. You should know what they say long before you hit START so your first act after hitting START is clicking the X to make the instructions go away so you can start scoring points.
3) I don’t know what’s going on with the shortcut keys for some of the BLUEBOOK functions. I could not get to the “Option Eliminator Mode” by using the key combination the College Board provided. I emailed them about this flaw.
4) The new Reading and Writing sections are front-loaded with items that would have been on the paper-and-pencil READING TEST (Section 1). They were more time consuming for me because of my inability to physically underline words I thought were important. I began to wonder how timing was going to play out for me. And then I learned more….
5) The paper-and-pencil WRITING AND LANGUAGE TEST questions were in the second half of the new Reading and Writing sections. The topics tested were limited, and the difficulty was super easy. If I was thinking about timing in the first part of the test, any worries evaporated as I tore through the second part.
6) Sentence Completions are back! Well, no one at the College Board will likely call them Sentence Completions because such questions require some of the lowest order of thinking. I, for one, am glad to see them return because I found them simple.
7) On the Math sections, using the provided on-screen calculator was a hit on some questions, a miss on others. As with everything with the BLUEBOOK app, it must be practiced and toyed with for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
8) On the Math sections, you cannot annotate (the BLUEBOOK app term for highlighting) anything in the question stems. That’s annoying!
9) All the old strategies worked for me on the Math section questions.
10) Paper, pencils, and pens (?!). The page on the CB website outlining what you should bring on the day of the test says pencils and pens. I wonder what kinds are permitted? Another page says that at the end of the test, the proctor will collect your scratch paper. Nowhere else does it mention scratch paper. I feel a little bad for the College Board; however, I also wish they would be clear about what non-digital aids a test taker can use and when.
My score on Digital SAT Practice Test 1: 1590.
I got all the Reading and Writing questions right. I missed one Math question I had no business missing. I clicked the wrong answer choice. Sigh. I am counting this as a 1600 for two reasons:
(1) I would have double-checked all my answers before ending each section if it had been a real test. As it was, I used at max about two-thirds of the time. Timing was not an issue at all, but I would use all the time on a real test.
(2) My ego needs it to be 1600. hahahahaha!
So, my final words on this initial impression: This test is coachable, like every previous iteration of the SAT, and my partners and I are already discerning patterns and strategies for maximizing your outcomes.
When the CB announced they were going digital, I was thinking, “Couldn’t you have waited a little longer so I wouldn’t have to learn a new format before I retired?” Now, I am thinking, “Thanks for making this another beatable version.”
Let’s do this!
Founder and Owner of Robie Learning Center