Understanding the new SAT
Are you familiar with the new SAT test format for 2016 and beyond? The good news is the newly redesigned SAT exam reflects some of the changes that have taken place in education and the workplace, so students should find the test more relevant and relatable overall. The more relevant exam should help reduce some of the preparation anxiety test takers have experienced in the past. Here are some elements of the new SAT to know about:
- No more obscure vocabulary words – one of the least favorite prep tasks was the section that required test takers to memorize dozens of very obscure vocabulary words. These have been eliminated in favor of testing student understanding of the use in context of more common words and phrases as part of a new “real world” focus of the exam.
- No penalty – the penalty for wrong answers has been removed so students will no longer have to hesitate about selecting a potentially wrong answer.
- Digital – the test can now be taken online as well as on paper.
- Command of evidence – a new focus for the exam throughout, students will interpret and derive meaning from evidence given them in tables, graphs and multi-paragraph reading passages. Students will also be asked to edit and improve texts and analyze passages on topics related to work and careers, history, science and the social sciences.
- Math – the math section will focus on the kind of math used most often in real world situations. Students will answer questions using problem solving, data analysis, the core concepts of algebra and real-world relevant topics from geometry and trigonometry.
- The U.S. founding documents – each exam will feature one or more passages from one of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence or the Federalist papers. We encourage our students to become familiar with the content and meaning of these documents while preparing for the exam, as well as to have an understanding of the historical context in which they were conceived.
- Essay – although now an optional part of the test, many schools will continue to require the essay. The essay section is now more analytical in nature and will double in length from 25 to 50 minutes. The format will be to explain how the author builds an argument in a given passage.
- Scoring – the exam is returning to its original 1600 point scale. The two sections – Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing will have point scales from 200-800 points. The essay will be scored separately in three parts – reading, writing and analysis, each worth 8 points for a total possible of 24.
Overall, the new SAT will be a better indicator of which students are best prepared to succeed in college coursework and in the workplace. While the SAT is still guaranteed to be a competitive exam and crucial to getting into the school of your dreams, by starting early and sticking to a solid preparation plan, you will be ready to do well on the SAT.