The SAT completely changed in March 2016—The College Board redesigned the SAT to more closely align with what students are learning in high school. At A+ Test Prep & Tutoring, our education experts have created a new curriculum to prepare our students from the Main Line, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties for the new test. Below are some of the key changes students will see on the redesigned SAT.
The “old” SAT was scored on a scale of 600–2400. The redesigned SAT is scored on a scale of 400–1600, with the reading and writing components being combined into a single “Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing” score.
The “old” SAT awarded one point for a correct answer, and deducted a quarter of a point for an incorrect answer. In the new version, students are not penalized for guessing—since there will be is no deduction for an incorrect answer (similar to the ACT), no question should ever be left blank on the redesigned SAT. In another change, multiple choice questions now offer four choices, rather than five choices.
The essay task on the revised SAT is optional, much like the ACT Writing option, and has been entirely redesigned. Instead of students choosing a position on an issue and supporting it with evidence, the new writing task requires students to read, analyze, and write a response to a provided source text.
And commensurate with the increased difficulty level of the writing task, the time allotted for the essay section has doubled, from 25 to 50 minutes.
The way the essay is scored has changed significantly as well. Unlike the “old” SAT essay, there are three separate scores on the revised SAT essay (reading, analysis, and writing). And scores are reported separately from each other (rather than combined into a single score) and from the other scores on the test. In other words, essay scores are not a factor in a student’s combined 400-1600 scaled score, but are reported separately.
The redesigned SAT is divided into two major sections: (1) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and (2) Math. The subsections of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section are a reading test, and a writing and language test. There is also an optional Essay section.
The new test must be completed in 3 hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the optional Essay. With breaks, the test takes about 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Change in Emphasis
The SAT is notorious for testing obscure vocabulary words, but the new test takes a step back from that method. On the redesigned test, there is a greater emphasis on testing relevant vocabulary in context and recognizing how words are used to shape meaning and tone.
The Math section also looks different, focusing on areas that “research shows are used most often in a wide range of majors and careers.” Math problems emphasize word problems as well as the ability to analyze charts, graphs and other data representations. In addition, on one of the two math sections students are not allowed to use their calculators.
Since all colleges now accept both the SAT and ACT, we recommend that students take a free practice SAT and a practice ACT so we can help them compare their scores on the two exams and determine which test is going to give them the best chance to shine. With all of the recent changes to the SAT, and the ever-changing college admissions landscape, it is worth investing the time in taking these practice tests before starting test prep.