Education Update: The New SAT– What You Should Know


The College Board has implemented some major changes for the SAT that is rolling out on March 5, 2016. As you may already know the SAT, which is created by The College Board, is one of the two entrance exams that colleges and universities consider when accepting new students. That being said, no one knows whether these new changes may harm or help future college-bound students. Whatever the case, it’s important that parents and students stay updated while preparing for the SAT. Here’s what you need to know about the New SAT changes.

The New SAT Format

ü  Time: It has changed from 3 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours (with an optional 50 minute essay).

ü  Scoring: Instead of being penalized for wrong answers, students will NOT lose points for guessing incorrectly. The scale range has also changed.

ü  Questions: Multiple-choice question have 4 answer choices instead of 5. There are also fewer questions.

ü  The Essay: The SAT now has an optional essay instead of a required one; however, since this test is for college entrance, students should check with their desired schools before opting out: some schools will require the essay.

The New SAT Reading and Writing Questions:

ü  Evidence-Based Questions: The College Board has hopped on the other standardized tests (the PARCC, SBAC, AIR, etc.), and now requires evidence-based reading and writing questions. It is not enough to simply answer a multiple-choice question with the correct answer; students have to find a quotation from the passage to support their answers. This will help reduce the chance of correct guessing on the test.

ü  Sentence-Completions: Say good-bye to sentence completion as The College Board has completely eliminated this from the test.

ü  Vocabulary: Students, rejoice! Instead of using obscure, outdated vocabulary, the SAT has adopted more familiar vocabulary words. There is also a greater emphasis on the context of words in passages: how a word can alter the meaning, tone, or impact of a passage.

 The NEW SAT Math Questions:

ü  NoCalculator Portion: Sorry students: the new SAT isn’t all fun. The College Board has added a no-calculator section. This is to test students’ foundational math skills, which are important in college and in life.

ü  More Data Analysis: In the prior SAT math portion, about 10-15% questions involved data analysis and about 25-30% were geometry questions. The new SAT math portion includes about 29% data analysis and less than 10% of the questions are related to geometry or trigonometry. I commend The College Board on this one, as many people use some form of data analysis in their careers (no matter the career they choose), not geometry.

ü  More Word Problems: There has been much buzz about the number of words in the math and English portions of the SAT. The College Board assures everyone that the number of words is roughly the same. The problem is not the number of words, however, but the complexity of the sentences and information, especially in the math test. Some people are saying the word problems are more narrative-based, telling a story rather than getting straight to the facts and information.

You can find more information on The College Board’s website. You can also check out Khan Academy for free SAT test preparation as they have teamed up with The College Board. Or you can choose to give The College Board a few practice runs before committing to its test. Alternatively, you can even choose to take the ACT instead. As I said earlier, check out your desired college’s entrance requirements before making any final decisions.

Are you preparing for the new SAT? Let us know what you think of the new SAT changes in the comment section below!

Author: Becky Adams, English Coordinator at MathWizard, Inc.

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