In its first big overhaul in 30 years, the SAT is changing and will now be more closely aligned with the ACT. If you plan to take your SAT test in March 2016 or later, you will be dealing with the new, improved and redesigned SAT format. Be sure to study the appropriate materials and familiarize yourself with the new test so you get the best possible scores for your college entrance application.
Why Redesign the Test?
The mandate for the new test was to make it more straightforward and transparent to give students the best possible opportunity to show what they had learned. To this end, sample tests have been released before the first redesigned SAT to help students to prepare.
You can get copies of the sample tests here.
A number of changes to the format should leave students with a clearer idea of what is required of them. Some of the changes are:
- There will be no penalty for wrong answers. This gives students greater encouragement to give it their best shot without fear of incurring a penalty.
- There will only be 4 answer choices for each question rather than 5.
- The essay will no longer be a personal one, but instead students will be given a passage and then asked to show how the author is persuading the audience. Students will be able to see the essay question before the test, but not the passage.
- In the reading section, students will be asked to supply evidence to back up their claims. This section will contain a question about the text which students need to support with evidence from the text. If you get the first question wrong, your evidence is unlikely to be right. You must get the first question right in order to find the correct evidence to back it up.
- There won’t be any more difficult vocabulary to define, instead students will have to define words according the context in which they are used in a passage. This means that the words are easier, but students will need to know several definitions for each word.
- Graphics and charts will play a bigger role and students will have to extrapolate information from these graphics, especially when it comes to the reading section. Students will also have to change sentences so that they are more closely aligned with information from the graphics.
- Reading questions will now include some historical US documents like the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and writings by historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Students are not expected to know the texts, but it will mean that they are familiar with the authors and context as it is more in keeping with what they are learning in other subjects.
- Total score (400–1600) which means that the average score will be around 1,000 (as opposed to the 1,500 of the old score). A very good score on the new test will be 1,200 and a very low score will be 840.