Adaptive Testing and the Digital SAT

Uncategorized Oct 31, 2023

With the final paper SAT coming up in a mere month, many students and parents have questions and concerns about  the new, digital version of the SAT. Foremost among those concerns is the fact that the test is adaptive


Adaptive technology is not new


Both the GMAT and GRE have been adaptive tests for decades, so the industry has a lot of experience with this technology. This should allay people’s concerns about the effectiveness of adaptive testing - while it is new for the SAT, it is not new to testing!


The Digital SAT is section adaptive


Like the GRE, the Digital SAT adapts in sections. This means that your performance on the first section determines which version of the second section you are given. 


How the Digital SAT adapts


There are two sections (what the SAT calls modules) for the reading & writing portion of the exam and two sections for the math portion of the exam. Everybody gets the same version of module 1. If a student does well on module 1, then that student gets the harder version of module 2. Conversely, if the student doesn’t do that well on module 1, then the easier version of module 2 is presented. 


The fact that the modules change rather than the section allows students to move around within the module, skipping ahead to later questions and going back to earlier questions. This also means that a single mistake carries less weight, as your overall performance determines the next module, rather than each single question.

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