Digital SAT Reading and Writing Edition

What to expect on the Reading and Writing section

In a previous post we outlined the switch from paper and pencil to an entirely digital platform the College Board is implementing for all of its tests (SAT, PSAT, APs, etc.), and in this post we are going to take a closer look at the Reading and Writing module(s) of the SAT.

The Basics

Instead of having separate Critical Reading and Writing & Language sections like the paper version, the digital SAT combines the two categories into two modules. It also has fewer total questions (54 vs 96) and a shorter time frame (64 minutes vs 100). 

On the digital test, each question is matched with a shorter (roughly a 100 words) passage. These shorter passages will still draw from multiple genres including Social Sciences, Humanities, Literature, and Sciences. However, students will no longer be required to analyze longer passages as they were on the paper-based SAT. It also looks like the “no change” answer option has been eliminated (at least in early versions of the test), but there are more word choice questions, which means that increasing vocabulary knowledge will help students improve their scores. Here is a quick breakdown of the content/skills tested in both categories.

Reading Skills

Craft and Structure (13-15 questions)

  • Words in Context
  • Structure and Purpose
  • Connections between different texts

Info and Ideas (12-14 questions)

  • Central Ideas and Details
  • Command of Evidence
  • Making Inferences
Writing Skills

Standard English Conventions (11-15 questions)

  • Punctuation, Parts of Speech, etc.

Expression of Ideas (8-12 questions)

  • Rhetorical Analysis
  • Transitions 

Students will have access to a highlighter tool to mark passages and the ability to eliminate answer choices. Like many digital tests, students will also be able to flag specific questions to quickly go back to specific ones throughout the test. It’s important to remember that the test is adaptive. Questions on both modules are ranked easy, medium, and hard, and scores are determined by the combination of the number of questions answered correctly AND the difficulty level. This means that a student’s performance on the first module directly impacts the difficulty level of the second module. In order to achieve a score higher than a 600 on the Reading and Writing section, a student has to qualify for the more difficult second module. For more information about adaptive testing, read this post

At PES, we offer several options for helping students prep for the SAT. We offer individual tutoring services aimed at identifying strengths and closing any knowledge gaps. For more information, simply send us a message at tutoring@pesglobal.org or submit an inquiry form here for more information.

The Official Digital SAT Study Guide (Official Digital Study Guide)


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