Digital SAT: Adaptive Testing

So, the SAT is going to be changing a lot next year. One of the biggest changes is adaptive testing, but what exactly is that?

Adaptive testing means that the questions students get will vary depending on their performance on previous questions. The Digital SAT is stage adaptive, not item adaptive. This means that the test isn’t adapting questions by question, but rather in stages (groups of questions).


Theoretically, one of the big reasons for adaptive testing is that it allows for the Digital SATs much shorter length. Adaptive testing allows for a more accurate assessment of student content knowledge.

Both the Reading and Writing section and the Math section are broken into 2 stages. How a student performs on stage 1 will affect the module they get in stage 2. Stage 1 is non-adaptive; everyone receives all questions types in a full range of difficulty. Stage 2 can come from 2 modules, one which is on average easier and one which is on average more difficult. Both modules will contain a full range of question difficulties but the amount of easy vs difficult questions will be weighted in different directions.


Some important things to note about adaptive testing:

  • Questions will have different weights. This means a simple right/wrong tally no longer means much for students and teachers. The SAT will no longer publish scales for tests because there is no longer a singular version of the test that everyone takes.

  • The SAT will reuse questions on future tests which means students will not be able to review their tests after scoring and fewer previous tests will be published.


We hope this educates you on another aspect of the Digital SAT as we all adapt to the new changes coming our way!

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