As you may know, the College Board is redesigning the SAT! The new test will be available to take in early 2016. We know you are probably confused about the new system and worried that you will be underprepared for the new version of the test. To help remedy that and familiarize you with the new SAT, we have put together a “top 10 list” of the key expected changes to the SAT:
1. Obscure vocab begone
The biggest change in the reading section is the elimination of some vocabulary questions. Many people felt that the SAT tested someone’s ability to memorize complicated words instead of testing knowledge of words that students need in college. This didn’t fit in with the end result of making an exam that shows college preparedness, so the new SAT will have a different approach to vocabulary. Though students will still need to know vocabulary words, the College Board wants to test words that might come up in academic settings (think “personification,” “satirical,” or “empirical,” instead of words like “adumbrate” or “intransigent”). Even more importantly, the focus will shift from multiple-choice questions that depend on knowing the meaning of a word to questions where students could determine the meaning of the world using context.
2. Less math topics, more straightforward math
The math section in the current SAT exam often seems overly tricky. The math section on the new SAT will stick to a more transparent approach: the test will still cover three main areas (ratios, percentages, and proportions; linear equations and functions; and complex equations) and it will test these concepts in an easier-to-understand manner. Part of the difficulty students have had in the past with the SAT math questions has just been understanding what the questions mean! The SAT overhaul aims to address this by changing the presentation of its math concepts in questions.
3. Students must cite evidence in passage-based questions
In the current SAT, students select answers for passage- based questions from multiple choices and do not need to show their work. Now, students will be asked to support their answer with evidence and to cite specific passages in support of their choice.
4. Newly-sourced reading passages
These passages will come from different sources. There will be four long passages and one pair of passages, and these materials will come from US/world literature, history or social studies, and science. The new SAT will require students to dig deeper with the passages and understand the nuances of words, instead of just reciting definitions.
5. Graphs and charts in the reading sections
The reading sections will seem a little more like the ACT, because there may be some questions that include graphs or charts, which students will have to interpret in addition to the words in the passage. Basically, the College Board wants students to get better at analyzing and comparing texts, not just knowing strange vocabulary words and being able to find the sentence in a passage that best supports one claim or another.
6. No calculators for parts of the math section
Now students won’t be able to use a calculator for every section:test-takers will only have the option of doing so in some sections. Instead of numerous complicated equations that students need a graphing calculator to solve, the new exam will require students to do many of these problems on scratch paper.
7. No penalty for incorrect answers
Students lost a 1/4 point for incorrect answers in the old SAT. The new SAT will no longer have a guessing penalty. Students should therefore try to answer all questions.
8. Change in score measurements
The SAT will revert to its 1600-point scoring system, instead of the 2400-point system it uses now. This is due in part to how the writing and language scores will be combined, instead of being counted separately as they are under the 2400-point system.
9. Essay is optional
There’s no mandatory essay! Now students can take the SAT without the essay (three hours) or choose to do the additional essay section (nearly four hours). The old essay section was mandatory, and it required students to choose one side of a prompt and then write an explanation of their side (for example, “Do people make better decisions if they stay neutral and impartial?” or “Does working with others yield better results than working alone?”). The new essay takes a different approach. Since the College Board wants to improve students’ abilities to compare and analyze passages, the essay will require students to do exactly that. Now the prompt will give students a passage and require them to write an essay analyzing the argument in the passage: how does the author make his or her point, what evidence is used, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the argument.
10. SAT goes Digital
Starting in 2016, student can elect to take the online version of the SAT exam.