How To Study for the New SAT

The following article was written so for students who want an answer to the pressing question of how to study for the new SAT.

When the new SAT rolls out in March 2016, students will sit down to a completely revised exam. In order to do well on the redesigned SAT, students need make sure that they are familiar with the content changes and change their studying plans accordingly.

Students can find an overview of the new aspects of the SAT on the College Board website, and the following chart provides you with an overview of those key changes.


How To Study for New SAT | Think About the Essay

One of the first elements to consider is whether or not students want to do the essay section. For the first time, the essay will be an optional section of the SAT! The exam itself will be scored separately from the essay, so students who opt out of the essay will receive a score out of 1600, while students who take the essay section will get their score out of 1600 and an additional essay score. This can help students who are strong writers highlight their strengths for college applications committees.

The essay is not as simple as it was on the old SAT – instead of spending twenty minutes responding to a prompt, students need to write an essay analyzing the argument in a given passage. This requires a different kind of writing intelligence that some students may not have been able to practice. In general, teens should focus on their critical reading skills to improve performance in this section: the ability to find supporting evidence and trace how an argument develops throughout a passage is key.

Try Some Mental Math

Another major change on the new SAT is tightened restrictions on using calculators. On the old SAT, calculators were permitted on most of the math section, but the new SAT rarely allows students to use calculators. This can be challenging for teens who have gotten out of the habit of doing mental math or pen and paper calculations. In order to use time wisely on the exam and save precious minutes for other sections, it may be helpful for teens to practice their mental math skills ahead of the test.

Try some of the math questions released by the College Board in December 2015 by clicking here.

More Passages, Less Vocab

Another welcome shift on the new SAT is a reduction in confusing vocabulary words that aren’t often used in real life. The new SAT still has some tough words, but these words are ones most likely to be seen in college readings or in the workplace, so there is some merit to learning these words, even beyond the test.

To make up for the reduced vocabulary on the exam, the new SAT will have longer reading passages from a variety of genres. Some critical reading questions will ask students to compare passages or note similarities between passages, so reading closely and carefully will help achieve a high score in this area.

How to prepare for the new SAT | materials and test prep books

Prepare with the official practice exams released by the College Board. You can also use the October 2015 PSAT to prepare as it mimics the new SAT. You will also benefit from using past versions of the SAT test to get practice in the areas of the test that are remaining the same.

When to start studying | timing

Every student is different and the time spent studying will depend on your goals and your starting point. In an ideal situation, we suggest starting test prep in junior year and then using senior year as insurance year if you did not get the scores you wanted. We also recommend working for about four-six months overall before taking the test. However, because there is not a "one size fits all approach", this may be too long or too short for some students.  Two months could be more than enough if you are already close to your target score or could be too little if you need to shore up on fundamentals and want a 300 point plus improvement.

WHEN TO TAKE the new sat?

We don't recommend taking the redesigned SAT when it first comes out in March 2016. And if you take this advice, you will be joined in your decision by multitudes of students who will also choose to ignore the new SAT and take the ACT. This is because an average student does not have an incentive to take a new test with the unfamiliar and extremely challenging content. Most students will prefer that someone else be the College Board's guinea pigs!


Preparation for the SAT does not have to be daunting and exasperating; instead, it can represent an important opportunity along a student’s path to learning mastery. Indeed, the perspectives and abilities acquired during preparation can be transformative and last a lifetime.

Our two-track approach to mastering content and improving test-taking skills means that students will not only thoroughly understand the fundamental concepts and skills tested by the SAT, but they will also excel in using essential techniques to improve attitude, endurance and focus. Our students hone their independent thinking skills while developing a resilient mindset so they can perform on test day in a powerful, resourceful, creative and calm manner. Each student in our program receives the undivided attention and expertise of a dynamic and experienced coach who provides the framework to support each student on his unique path to becoming a master learner.

Please call 917.287.7927 now for a complimentary consultation to discuss how Origins Tutoring can help your child achieve his or her personal best on the SAT.