Preparing to Take the New SATs


Alyssa Daniele, Photo Editor

In March 2016 the redesigned SAT tests will begin to be administered to students all over the country. The College Board created a new format for the test which the College Board believes will allow them to better assess a student’s knowledge in reading, writing and mathematics. Students should be prepared for changes on the new test. Here are the major differences:

  1. No penalties for wrong answers: In the past a fraction of a point was taken away from your score for every wrong answer made on the test now no points are taken away for wrong answers on the test. Students have the ability to guess the answer to questions they are not sure of without worrying about losing points.
  2. Usage of a calculator: The ability to use a calculator will only be allowed on one out of the two mathematics sections. On the old test students were always allowed a calculator on the mathematics sections of the exam, now students will be required to use basic mathematical skills through mental math or long hand math to answer questions.
  3. Relevant words in context: The new test will test students on commonly used words and vocabulary from your high school, college and career years. The test will not include seldom used words that are infrequently used. Students understanding of relevant words and their precise meaning of how they are used in context is what the College Board’s aims to test with the redesigned SAT.
  4. Command of evidence: The new SATs have incorporated questions that test your ability to find evidence within a passage that most accurately supports a statement. Some questions may ask you to answer a question about the passage. The following question will ask you to find textual evidence to support your answer in the previous question. The old SAT never asked you to support a claim, but now the College Board has incorporated this concept into the test as this is how essays are written, with statements and supporting details.
  5. Essay analyzing a source: In the redesigned SAT test the essay will be drastically different from before. 1) You will be given four pages to complete your essay instead of two. 2) The essay will be optional. And 3) you will be given a supplementary passage that you will read, analyze, interpret and explain in your essay how the author of that passage supports and builds an argument to persuade an audience. This essay leaves you room to decide what to focus on but should overall demonstrate your knowledge of how the author put together his or her passage. Contrasting the old tests essay which took a broad topic for you to break down into a more personal essay. Now the essay on the new SAT test will focus strictly on facts and support.
  6. Focus on math that matters most: The math portions of the exam will be slightly different in what types of math the test focuses on. The new test aims to test your skills in three areas of math that help people to manage and understand things in the real world. Problem solving and data analysis are a major part of daily situations, therefore many of the questions in the mathematical portion of the exam will include percentages, ratios, and proportional reasoning. The mathematics on the test cover algebra, geometry and a bit of trigonometry. Different from the old test which put most of its efforts into testing students on simple to slightly complex algebraic  equations and geometric concepts. The test questions were also stated simply, Whereas the new test questions may be in a small paragraph that students will have to pick out information from to understand and complete the problem.
  7. Problems grounded in real-world contexts: In the redesigned SAT, the questions students will be asked are from the real-world directly related to work in college and career. Both the reading and writing sections include evidence-based texts as well as supplement graphics, all of which you might encounter in various majors in college and careers. On the old test you were specifically asked to simple identify errors, but now you will have to do much more; you will be asked to revise and edit to improve the texts as well as identify errors.
  8. Analysis in history/social studies and science: The SATs usually included a wide range of different passages along with questions but now the redesigned test will focus on the important areas of study such as history and science. Questions related to history and science can be found all throughout the test, but the questions do not ask you to provide any facts. It only asks you to apply your knowledge and skills that you have practiced in those subjects.
  9. U.S. founding documents and the great global conversation: The United States founding documents are something that you will see in the real-world and are challenging to read and understand with the extensive use of vocabulary in the works. The redesigned SATs strive to incorporate passages from US founding documents and the great global conversation for students to read and understand, as these are things you will deal with on daily basis in the real world.


Voices of students:

“Study by taking practice tests and always go with your first choice and don’t second guess yourself.” Jessica Havrilla, senior

“Make sure you go to the right testing center…” Lia Callahan, senior

“Don’t stress yourself out.” Makenzie Clark, senior

“Make sure you’re good at guessing.” Jackie Bracale, senior