Research Supporting the Use of the Digital SAT

College Board remains strongly committed to the validity and fairness of our assessments—ensuring that our tests measure what they're intended to measure and that the tests afford an equal opportunity to all test takers to show their best work. Test fairness considerations are at the foundation of the design, development, and administration of the SAT Suite.

The SAT is used by K–12 for state accountability testing and by K–12 and colleges for assessing college and career readiness. The digital SAT continues to be a strong predictor of college readiness and success. This is accomplished by:

  1. Basing the test design and content on a solid foundation of high-quality research:
    1. A curriculum survey planned for 2024 to update College Board's data identifying the skills and knowledge that postsecondary educators believe are prerequisite to success in their first-year, entry-level courses and that secondary educators are emphasizing in their instruction.
    2. Alignment studies (conducted internally by College Board beginning in 2022 and with a third-party firm in 2023–24) documenting the degree of alignment in reading and writing and in math between college and career readiness academic standards and the skill/knowledge elements tested on the digital SAT Suite.
    3. External input on and review of test materials by a range of independent experts at the secondary and postsecondary levels to ensure that the tests and their questions are fair and sufficiently challenging to assess the knowledge and higher-order skills students need to be ready for college and careers.
    4. A cognitive lab (verbal protocol) study conducted in 2023 confirming that, like the paper and pencil SAT, digital SAT Suite test questions elicit the sorts of higher-order, cognitively complex thinking required by students for college and career readiness and by federal peer reviewers evaluating state accountability systems. Additional cognitive lab studies are planned for 2024–25 with English learners, students with ADHD, and students with dyslexia.
  2. Maintaining strong continuity with the paper-based SAT Suite in terms of the knowledge, skills, and content domains assessed:
    1. Robust content development and psychometric processes to verify that digital SAT Suite test questions are comparable in difficulty to those used on the paper and pencil versions of the tests.
    2. Value in congruity: Based on data from more than 220,000 students attending 165 colleges and universities, we know that current SAT scores are useful predictors of first-semester college course performance in the matching academic domains. Beyond these empirical links to college readiness in literacy and math, many studies have also demonstrated the strong validity of the SAT for predicting key college outcomes, including first-year grade-point average (FYGPA), retention through each year of college, and degree completion.
  3. An ongoing, comprehensive, and rigorous validity research agenda:
    1. Convergent validity study results showed that digital SAT scores strongly relate to paper and pencil SAT scores and they both relate to other educational measures (e.g., high school GPA, average AP Exam score) in very similar ways.
    2. Pilot predictive validity study results show that digital SAT scores are as predictive of college performance as paper and pencil SAT scores and that they continue to meaningfully improve the prediction of college performance above the use of high school GPA alone.
    3. National digital SAT predictive validity study conducted after the availability of sufficient college outcomes data from operational testing administrations (starting with the entering college class of fall 2025 and continuing longitudinally).
    4. Institution- or system-specific validity studies conducted using the Admitted Class Evaluation Service (ACES). ACES remains available to institutions to conduct their own campus-specific studies, free of charge. These studies help colleges and universities use the SAT in college admission, placement, advising, and scholarship decisions.