The New SAT (March 2016)

The New SAT (March 2016)

the_new_SATThe SAT is changing in spring of 2016. Your first reaction to this news might be, “The SAT was already a headache – and now I have to figure out what the new SAT is all about?” Fortunately, the new SAT is not changing too drastically from the current test. Let’s briefly discuss what you need to know.

Will You Take the “Old” SAT or the New SAT?

The new SAT switches over in March 2016. Starting then, all SAT test dates will administer the new SAT. Up to March 2016, all SAT test dates will give the current SAT.

That means:

  • If you are graduating in 2016, you will take the current SAT, because you have time to finish the SAT (and apply to college) before March 2016. If your college application schedule runs later than most, or you want another opportunity to retake the SAT, you could end up taking it late in your senior year. But your best plan is to take the current SAT in fall or winter of 2015 and be done with it.
  • If you will be a junior (or younger) in 2016, you should plan to take the new SAT. It will be easiest for you to hold off on taking the test during the fall and winter of 2015 and waiting to take the test in spring 2016.

Why Is the Test Changing?

The organizations that design standardized tests change them occasionally. Their goal is for the test to be fair and useful. Don’t worry about whether the new format is “better” or “easier” than the current format – most of the changes are not important to you as an applicant.

The Biggest Changes

Here are the biggest changes on the new SAT:

  • The essay will become optional… But I recommend you do it anyway, so that doesn’t change much.
  • Some math questions will not allow the use of a calculator.
  • Wrong answers are no longer penalized. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming page, “Guessing on the SAT.”
  • The writing section has been absorbed into the reading section… But that just changes how the test is scored, so that doesn’t change much for your preparation.

Because of the last change, the scoring scale of the test will now by 400-1600. On the new test, 1600 (not 2400) will be a perfect score.

More Changes

Here’s a more complete list of changes.

Category Current SAT 2016 SAT
Total Testing Time 3 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours, plus 50 minutes for the optional essay
Test Sections Critical Reading, Writing (including the Essay), and Math Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math, and Optional Essay
(Some) Areas of Focus General reasoning; vocabulary Stronger emphasis on the knowledge and skills most relevant to success in college and career

Greater focus on the vocabulary in extended context and on the effect of word choice

Essay Required

Taken at the beginning of the test time

25 minutes to write the essay

Tests writing skills. Students take a position on a presented issue

Optional (individual colleges/universities determine whether they require the Essay for admission)

Taken at the end of the test time

50 minutes to write the essay

Tests writing skills as well as reading and analysis skills. Students analyze a provided text

Scale ranging from 600 to 2400

Deductive scoring (a quarter point deducted for each incorrect answer; one point awarded for each correct answer; no change in score for a blank answer)

Essay score part of the total score

No subscores

Scale ranging from 400 to 1600

Rights-only scoring (no deduction for an incorrect answer; one point awarded for each correct answer; no change in scare for a blank answer)

Separate essay score ranging 2 to 8 on each of three traits

Subscores provided for Reading and Writing and for Math

For the official site about the new SAT, see this page.

All in all, the changes don’t make too much difference for someone preparing for the test.

Does This Course Focus on the “Old” SAT or the “New” SAT?

This course focuses on the current SAT, but we will update it over time as the new SAT gets closer. Right now we are focused on helping everyone who will be taking the test in 2015. If you will take the new SAT and you’re starting early, the practice material on this site will still be helpful to you – it’s just that some of the questions won’t be quite the same format on the new test.

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