The New SAT: What You Need to Know
  • 2-minute read
  • 1st March 2016

The New SAT: What You Need to Know

Originally called the “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” the SAT is a standardized test used for college admissions in the US. Understanding the SAT is therefore essential for anyone looking to enroll at a US college.

However, starting this month (or May 2016 for international students), the SAT has changed. And if you’re thinking of applying to college this year, you’ll need to know the difference.

Main Changes

In terms of structure, the new SAT still focuses on math and English skills, but with an ‘evidence-based reading and writing’ section replacing the separate writing and critical reading components of the old test.

The essay component is now also optional and scored separately, rather than compulsory.

Old SAT

New SAT

1. Critical reading

2. Writing

3. Math

4. Essay

1. Evidence-based reading and writing

2. Math

3. Essay (optional)

On top of these structural differences, some of the main changes include:

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  • Scores will now be given on a 1600 point scale (800 for math; 800 for reading/writing) instead of the old 2400 point scale
  • Incorrect answers will no longer be penalized on multiple-choice questions
  • Less focus on obscure vocabulary, more on understanding words in context and evidence-based reasoning
  • Math component now only permits use of a calculator on some sections

Preparing for the New SAT

Since this new SAT differs significantly from the old one, it’s vital to prepare accordingly. This might involve:

  1. Learning the New Test Format

The simplest and most important thing you can do before sitting the new SAT is learning exactly how it has changed; knowing the general structure and format of the SAT will allow you to focus your revision and ensures you won’t be surprised when the test day arrives.

  1. Honing Your Critical Reading

The new SAT focuses more on evidencing your claims, critical analysis and understanding information in context (rather than answering sentence completion questions). This makes it essential to work on your reading skills as well as your vocabulary.

  1. Taking a Practice Test

As ever with exams, the best way to prepare is taking a practice paper. For the new test, your best option is the Khan Academy Official SAT Practice site.

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