Digital SAT vs. Traditional SAT: Scoring Comparison

The Scholastic Assessment Test, commonly known as the SAT, is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. For many years, the SAT was administered exclusively in a traditional paper-and-pencil format. However, in recent years, the College Board, the organization that oversees the SAT, has introduced a digital version of the test. This shift from the traditional SAT to the digital SAT has brought about several changes, including alterations in the scoring process. In this article, we will explore the scoring comparison between the digital SAT and the traditional SAT.

Traditional SAT Scoring:

1. Scoring Scale:

  - The traditional SAT used a scoring scale for each of its two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math. The scale for each section ranged from 200 to 800 points.

2. Total Score:

  - A student's total score on the traditional SAT was the sum of their scores on the EBRW and Math sections, resulting in a total score ranging from 400 to 1600.

3. Essay Score:

  - The SAT included an optional essay section, which was scored separately. The essay received three scores, each on a 2 to 8 scale, for a total essay score ranging from 6 to 24.

4. Subscores:

  - In addition to the main section scores, the traditional SAT provided subscores for specific skills within the EBRW and Math sections, helping students and colleges assess strengths and weaknesses in various areas.

Digital SAT Scoring:

1. Section-Based Scoring:

  - The digital SAT continues to have two main sections: EBRW and Math. However, the scoring for each section differs from the traditional SAT.

2. Scoring Range:

  - The scoring range for each of the digital SAT sections (EBRW and Math) is 200 to 800 points, similar to the traditional SAT.

3. Total Score:

  - The total score for the digital SAT is the sum of the scores on the EBRW and Math sections, also ranging from 400 to 1600, mirroring the scoring scale of the traditional SAT.

4. No Essay Section:

  - One notable difference between the digital SAT and the traditional SAT is the absence of an optional essay section in the digital version. Therefore, there is no separate essay score for the digital SAT.

Key Similarities:

While there are differences in the scoring process between the digital SAT and the traditional SAT, it's important to note some key similarities:

1. Total Score Range:

  - Both versions of the SAT maintain a total score range of 400 to 1600 points.

 2. Sectional Scoring:

 - Both tests consist of two main sections, EBRW and Math, with each section scored independently.

3. Scoring Scale:

  - The scoring scale within each section, ranging from 200 to 800 points, remains consistent across both versions.

Considerations for Test-Takers:

As a test-taker, it's important to consider several factors when deciding between the digital SAT and the traditional SAT:

1. Personal Preference:

  - Some students may have a preference for the format of the test (digital or paper-and-pencil). Consider which format aligns with your test-taking strengths and comfort.

2. Essay Requirement:

  - If you are required to submit an essay score as part of your college applications, you should be aware that the digital SAT does not include an essay section. In such cases, you may need to take the traditional SAT with the essay.

3. Scoring Objectives:

  - Your college or scholarship program of interest may have specific score requirements or preferences regarding the digital SAT or traditional SAT. Check with the institutions to which you plan to apply for their guidelines.

4. Test Accessibility:

  - Consider the availability and accessibility of testing centers offering the digital SAT, especially if you have a preference for this format.

5. Practice Materials:

  - Ensure that you have access to appropriate practice materials and resources that align with the format of the SAT you plan to take.


The introduction of the digital SAT by the College Board has provided test-takers with an alternative to the traditional paper-and-pencil format. While there are differences in the scoring process, the fundamental scoring scale and structure remain consistent. When choosing between the digital SAT and the traditional SAT, it's essential to consider personal preferences, institutional requirements, and the availability of resources. Ultimately, both versions of the SAT are designed to assess your college readiness, and your preparation and performance are key factors in achieving your desired score.