Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Student Thoughts on the Digital PSAT

AMHS’ student body’s review of the new digital PSAT

Although the Digital SAT will not become available until March 2024, the Digital PSAT became available this fall. According to the College Board, the earlier implementation of the digital PSAT was “so that students who will be taking the SAT as juniors in the spring of 2024 have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the digital testing experience before taking the digital SAT.” Between 10/16 and 10/18, all 9th, 10th, and 11th graders at Magnet took this new PSAT. As the PSAT is nearly identical to the SAT in structure, time, and number of questions, I wanted to hear what Academic Magnet students thought about this new test and digital testing in general. More importantly, I wanted to know whether students preferred the older or newer test. So, I sent a survey to 10th and 11th-grade students containing questions and statements that compared the two tests. Additionally, I left a space for the students to leave final thoughts and other comments. In total, I received 82 responses from 45 sophomore students and 37 junior students. 


I had the respondents rank the statements (1-5) that a specific section of the digital PSAT was easier than the other: 1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree, 5=strongly agree.  


The Math Test

Overall, there were mixed results regarding the math section. However, most students agreed that the math section was easier on this PSAT than last year’s. I also asked a second question regarding the highest math class completed, with 41.5% of students having taken Algebra II and 35.4% having taken Pre-Calculus. The remaining 23.3% have taken either Geometry or Calculus or its AP equivalent. As the new PSAT has more Geometry, Algebra, and advanced math questions and fewer problem-solving and data analysis questions, I was unsure which group of math students would find the math section more challenging. I hypothesized that students who had completed all math courses up to Algebra II would find the test easier as they had recently taken the two classes the test consisted of. However, the nine disagreeing responses came from students who had taken Pre-Calc and Algebra II, and most students did not find the math section harder. This means that a student having more math knowledge than they did last year is not the only reason that the section was considered easier than or equal to the previous PSAT math section.


The Reading and Writing Test

Excluding the outlier of one 2, the results demonstrate a consensus that students found this English section of the PSAT to be easier than last year’s. The data also confirmed my prediction in my previous article that students would find this new format easier due to the shorter 25-150 word passages. 



Finally, the majority of students preferred the newer digital test over the older paper test. 


Student Opinions

Regarding the math section: 

  • “I definitely didn’t have enough time on the math second section.”
  • “There needs to be more time for the second math section as it is significantly more difficult.”



One thing I neglected to mention in my previous article was that both the Digital SAT and PSAT are adaptive: a student’s performance in the first module of the reading-writing and math tests will determine the difficulty of the questions they receive in the second module of these tests. For example, if a student performs well on the first module of the math test, they will have harder questions on the second. Additionally, these tests utilize item response scoring, where questions are worth different point values depending on their difficulty and the skills needed to answer them.

AT (author thoughts)= I expected that there would be a comment on the absence of the no-calculator section, but I did not receive one. Therefore, based on the data collected, I will infer that students did not have a problem with being able to use a calculator for the entire math section. 


Regarding the reading and writing section:

  • “I think that both the sections are better, but there were some questions that just weren’t written the best in the English section.”
  •  “The main thing that made the English easier was the shorter passages.”


Regarding digital testing:

  • “Digital is so much better, I think even if you gave me the same questions on a paper version and a digital one, I would say the digital questions were easier because it being digital makes things much simpler and smoother.”
  • “If they made the digital PSAT into paper then that would be perfect.”
  • “I hate having to look at the screen for so long.” 

AT= I expected that there would be mixed opinions on digital testing. Although I did not find this in my question on preferences, I did find this in the student thoughts space. 


Regarding testing in the gym:  

  • “The gym was really cold.” 
  • “It was much easier to focus in the gym but it was way too cold.”
  • “The glare needs to be dealt with. It made it annoying to read questions.”

AT= Previously, PSAT testing has been done in classrooms; this year the test-taking was done in the gym. The gym has small windows near the ceiling of the gym, which allows for the creation of a glare. If the test will continue to be administered in the gym, I recommend that the windows be covered.


Final Thoughts

  • “I liked the freedom we were given to get up and take breaks or go to the bathroom and the lack of verbal instructions given was nice to stay focused the entire time, it was overall less stressful.”
  • “The questions this year were easier overall, but the adaptive format of the digital test was not explained well.”
  • “There are less breaks throughout the test, but overall, I think it was good for college board to change the PSAT to digital.”


Overall, 10th and 11th grade AMHS students did like this new format. I am interested to see if there will be similar perspectives when 11th graders take the SAT in the spring. 

FAQ – Digital SAT Suite | College Board

Frequently Asked Questions about this Fall’s New Digital Adaptive PSAT – Summit Educational Group ( 


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