Rollout of New SAT Test Impacts Philadelphia Area

August 31, 2015 

AplusnewsColleges, students, and test prep providers adjust to testing changes

Jenkintown, PA – The College Board’s flagship college admissions test, the SAT, has been completely redesigned. These major structural and content-related changes will be seen for the first time on the March 2016 SAT. Stakeholders are determining the best course of action for dealing with an unfamiliar test. For colleges, that might mean changing testing requirements; for test prep providers, that means adjusting SAT curriculum and strategies to prepare students.

With an increased emphasis on data analysis, the new SAT test more closely aligns with the Common Core Standards, which place a greater value on skills than logic. In contrast, the SAT has historically had a reputation for being “tricky” and reasoning-focused. Here’s a look at some key changes by The College Board:

  • Removed tricky “SAT words” and replaced with questions that test understanding of more common vocabulary in context
  • Increased testing of analysis of literature in both the reading and essay sections
  • Made the essay optional (it is currently required) and doubled the amount of time students have to work on this portion
  • Removed scoring penalty for incorrect answers
  • Extended the math section to cover higher levels of math, up to trigonometry

Some colleges and universities are shifting their stance on the value of standardized tests, presumably influenced by the unfamiliarity of the new tests (the ACT is also altering its essay section). Notably, the University of Pennsylvania announced in July that it would no longer require students to submit scores for the essay portion of the SAT or ACT. The University of Virginia is another elite institution that is dropping its essay section requirement. Philadelphia’s Temple University now gives applicants the option of writing a series of reflective short essays in lieu of submitting test scores.

Since the test has been completely revised, very few practice tests are available for students to use in preparing for the new SAT test. Currently four official practice tests have been made available. Since working through released tests is such a critical component of test preparation, test prep providers like A+ Test Prep and Tutoring have been encouraging juniors to take the ACT instead – or to take the SAT before the new test is released. However, as we get closer to March 12, 2016, the date of the first administration of the new SAT, more practice exams will be released, which will make preparing for the new SAT easier for students.

“There is just a lack of tried and true practice tests for the new SAT, making it difficult for students to be fully prepared,” said Dan Ascher, president and CEO of A+. “At the moment, A+ is doing everything it can to prepare students for the ACT and the current SAT. And we are following the changes to the SAT very closely so we can train our tutors and provide the best possible test prep curriculum for the new test.”

To learn more about the SAT test changes and how they are impacting Philadelphia-area higher education stakeholders, please contact Dan Ascher for comment.


About A+:

A+ Test Prep and Tutoring provides one-to-one tutoring to over 600 students in the Philadelphia-area annually. A+ employs 65 professional tutors, who offer academic coaching, instruction in all school subjects, and test prep for SAT and ACT exams. A+ tutors are available at their two office locations in Montgomery County, PA, at students’ homes and schools throughout the Delaware Valley, and online in their virtual classroom. Read more on our website,



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