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New SAT vs. Old SAT

4 Dec

The redesigned SAT will first be administered in March 2016. Will you be ready?

The redesigned SAT will first be administered in March 2016. Will you be ready?

After the Jan. 23 administration of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), students will take a redesigned test. Here are the basic changes:

  1. Sections: The old SAT has three sections: Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing (including an essay). The new SAT has two mandatory sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics; there is also an optional Essay with a separate score.
  2. Scoring: The minimum score on the old test was 200 points with a maximum of 800 points for each test, for a total of 2400 possible on the three sections. Because the new SAT has just two sections, with scores between 200 and 800 each, the total possible score will be 1600. There will be subscores and cross-test scores available, as well as a score for the optional Essay portion. On the old SAT there was a 1/4 point penalty for guessing (wrong answers); there is no penalty for wrong answers on the new test.
  3. Time: The old SAT was 3 hours, 45 minutes. The new test will be 3 hours with an additional 50 minutes for students who choose to take the now-optional writing test. Yes, you SHOULD take the Writing portion, too.

New features:

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion will have a 65-minute Reading section and a 35-minute Writing and Language section–a total of 96 questions during the 100 minutes. Reading portions will be drawn from literature, informational, historical and scientific texts, to include graphics.

The Math portion will have a 25-minute no-calculator section and a 55-minute calculator section–a total of 58 questions during the total 70 minutes.

The optional Essay is different on the new SAT. For the old SAT the student built an argument on an issue. For the new SAT essay the test-taker will analyze how a writer builds an argument in a reading selection.

If you have prepped for the old SAT and will be taking the new test starting in March 2016, you will want to take a study course, purchase an SAT prep book through and/or do the practice tests prepared by Kahn Academy–accessed through the website.

The new test is still challenging–so you’ll want to be prepared.



The College Board is your friend

24 Aug

The College Board offers excellent resources for students. You are most likely aware that the College Board administers the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). However, you might not know of several other helpful ways CB can help you.

1. bigfuture

The general website is From there go to the College Planning link to find some great resources through “bigfuture.” This feature of the website provides the following:

  • College Search: information on colleges you already know about
  • College matches: your connection to colleges you might not know about, based on information you provide
  • Helpful advice about choosing a major
  • Make a Plan: another online feature that helps you set out a plan through the My Organizer

2. The Official SAT Question of the Day and The Official SAT Practice Test

Get questions emailed to you on a daily basis. Take real SAT practice tests online. Our tiny school’s recent National Merit Scholar said she attributed her success to doing the SAT Question of the Day on a daily basis. Good scores equal GREAT scholarship money by doing well on the SAT. Go to to see the various ways you can practice for this test, so you are well prepared.

3. SAT Skills Insight

This will help you increase your skills in challenging areas.

4. My SAT Online Score Report

Learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can better prepare for the test.

5. My College QuickStart

If you have taken the PSAT, My College QuickStart is an invaluable tool to help you prepare for the SAT and create a personalized study plan. Again, the website is

Just a few reminders about the SAT and the ACT:

  • Freshmen, sophomores and juniors interested in going to a four-year university should take the PSAT on October 14. See your high school counselor to sign up for this test.
  • Seniors will need to have the SAT and/or ACT taken by the December test dates. Register online:
  • Juniors should take the test(s) by May or June of next year (the SAT will be redesigned then–read more about this on the College Board site), and then again probably the fall of their senior year.
  • Test scores are sent free to a half dozen colleges free if you indicate those colleges when you sign up. Otherwise, it costs more money later.
  • Fee waivers for these tests are available from your school counselor (saving you $54.50 for the SAT, ) if you qualify for free or reduced lunch or if you are receiving another form of government assistance.

How will the SAT change?

6 Mar


The College Board announced March 5 that it will be making changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)–the first changes since 2005.

The changes seem to be in response to two forces — states’ adoption of the Common Core and the rising popularity of the ACT, which for the first time in the last year was taken by more students than was the SAT.

The changes will not take place until the spring 2016 SAT, but here’s a summary of what’s ahead for current high school freshmen and younger students:

1. No mandatory essay: Like the ACT, the essay will be optional. That means that the overall score will be 1600 (800 for math, 800 for critical reading), instead of 2400. A separate score will be provided if students take the essay. This will make the exam three hours long instead of three hours and 45 minutes. (Those who do the essay will have 50 additional minutes.)

2. No scoring penalty: Students will not be penalized for wrong answers. That means that students should bubble all answers instead of leaving any blank that they were not able to finish.

3. Vocabulary changes: Students will not be tested on obscure words; instead, the test will focus on words that are “widely used in college and career” such as analysis and synthesize.

4. Limited calculator: The use of a calculator will be limited to only certain portions of the math section.

5. Digital option: The SAT will be available in paper and digital forms.

6. Historical document: Each critical reading section will have one passage from an American founding document, such as The Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address.

One nice arrangement the College Board has set up is that it will offer a free SAT prep program online through Khan Academy. The College Board has received criticism over the past that wealthy students had an advantage over others because of their ability to pay for costly SAT prep programs that can cost a thousand dollars or more.

Are these changes good? Time will tell! In any case, colleges have indicated that the best indicator of college success has been a student’s success in high school, so it is important to take the most challenging classes your high school offers and then do your best in those classes.

The College Board will post the first sample SAT test on April 16. More information is available on the College Board website: