Key Changes to the New SAT

by Emily Kline

Per requests from parents, I have compiled this list which details the basic changes to the new SAT. This redesigned exam arrives at a local test center near you in March of 2016.

  1. No more crazy vocabulary. There are meaning-In-context questions in the reading comp section, but the sentence completion section is gone. The words are more familiar for a high school student. This is a welcome change.
  2. Only two sections are tested...back to the 1600 scoring scale of my peers rather than the 2400 of recent years. English/grammar is grouped into the reading section rather than standing on its own.
  3. The essay is optional. (For students seeking admission at higher tier schools, it isn't REALLY optional.) It is also quite different. You will be asked to determine how an author builds an argument after analyzing a passage. You also get more time to complete the essay...50 minutes instead of 25.
  4. No more penalty for wrong answers. Don't leave anything blank!!
  5. More complicated math. Up until now, the SAT has steered clear from trigonometry. Now the trigonometric identities are most definitely going to be on the test, as well as complex numbers, exponential rates, and natural logarithms.
  6. Timing is different. Instead of three staggered reading sections of 25, 25, and 20 minutes, you now have one 65 minute reading section and one 35 minute grammar section that make up your reading score. There is one 25 minute math section where a calculator is not permitted, followed by a 55 minute math section where it is. The essay comes first as usual, but as mentioned before, it is now 50 minutes instead of 25.
  7. The English section (now called writing and language test) is like the one in the ACT. No error identification or paragraph improvement section. Just several passages that students are asked to edit for errors in sentence structure, usage and punctuation along with editing and revising questions. As mentioned before, this section is now considered part of your Reading Score.
  8. The reading section is aligned with common core and asks students to find evidence for how an author makes his argument. This change means if you make an incorrect choice about an author's argument, you will almost certainly miss the next question as well, which asks you to cite evidence from the text to prove this is the correct answer.
Emily Kline
Written by:

Emily Kline

A college consultant, mom of three and Facebook enthusiast.

Tutors at Ivy Bound - a test preparation company for high school students.