redesigned SAT picThe recently administered multiple choice PSAT was the new SAT, only 15 minutes shorter (minus the essay.) That said, your student already has had a taste of the redesigned SAT. So what’s it really like? The following is a rundown of the new test which will be administered beginning on March 5, 2016:

There are now four multiple choice sections and an optional essay*.

• Evidence-Based Reading, Writing and Language: which still focuses on critical thinking as well as a stronger emphasis on the skills and knowledge mandatory for college and career success. Such skills include analyzing a sequence of paragraphs to make sure that they are not only correct substantially but grammatically as well. Students will be asked to interpret graphics and edit the accompanying passages. There will be a greater emphasis on the meanings of words in extended context as well as how word choice impacts meaning and tone. (Gone are the sentence completion questions which can test more esoteric language, like ‘esoteric’!)
• Math, with and without a calculator: will focus on “math that matters most” including problem solving and data analysis, linear equations and systems, and more complex equations and systems, bottom line – a lot less geometry and much more algebra. Studies have shown that competency in these areas of math contribute to college and career readiness. The math sections will also include multi-step applications to solve problems in social science, science, career scenarios and other real life applications.
• 50 minute Optional Essay: now at the end of the exam – tests not only writing skills but reading and analysis.

What else is changing? 
• The multiple choice will have only four options instead of five
• Gone is the penalty for an incorrect answer
• The score will be based on the two sections, 800 points each; the essay is scored separately, 1-4 on each of the three categories measured.
• The test will be shorter, 3 hours + 50 optional essay. (Which based on the latest information, most schools will require.)

Here are example questions from the 3 major types of questions:
READING: The critical reading section will take 65 minutes, and contain 52 multiple choice questions. There will be 4 single passages and one double passage, usually 8-10 questions per passage. They will average 500-750 words and typically come from 4 genres of writing: history, social studies, science and literature.
EXAMPLE from the Reading:
“The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions.”
Intense: most nearly means: (A) emotional (B) concentrated (C) brilliant (D) determined. The answer is B.
WRITING AND LANGUAGE: This 35 minute section will have 44 questions. It tests college and career readiness in editing and revising a variety of texts in a 4 of content areas: career, history/social studies, humanities, and science. The areas tested are conformity to the conventions of standard written English grammar, punctuation and usage as well as expression of ideas. (Prior knowledge is not necessary.)
EXAMPLE from the Writing and Language:
Dong Kingman: Painter of Cities
A 1954 documentary about renowned watercolor painter Dong Kingman shows the artist sitting on a stool on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown. A crowd of admiring spectators watches as Kingman squeezes dollops of paint from several tubes into a tin watercolor (1) box, from just a few primary colors, Kingman creates dozens of beautiful hues as he layers the translucent paint onto the paper on his ease.
(B) box. From just a few primary colors,
(C) box from just a few primary colors,
(D) box, from just a few primary colors
(The answer is B)
(SIDE NOTE: This type of question is almost identical to the types of grammar questions on the English section of the ACT.)
MATH: The 80 minute math test contains 57 questions, divided into 2 sections – with and without a calculator. Most are multiple choice and some are student response – as is presently contained on the exam. The calculator will not be allowed for the 25 minute section of the test.

EXAMPLE from the Math:

math problem one

math problem two

Both answers are C.

ESSAY: The optional 50 minute essay may be required by most colleges. Students will be asked to analyze a given argument rather than take a stance. The analysis may be from a published work such as, poet Dana Dioia’s essay on “Why Literature Matters”.
So when all is said and done will this be a ‘fairer’ test? It appears to be more of an achievement test and more related to school work especially in the math. So in that regard it may be a much fairer test.
My take? I’ve always respected the SAT as I think it is a good test to measure a student’s critical reading and analytic skills. Students that are avid readers always do well and will continue do so regardless of any changes. So what does that tell you? Read, study hard, take challenging courses and get good grades. Perhaps that will matter even more come 2016.
What is your take on the redesigned SAT? I would love to hear your comment, please leave them in the section below.


Are you still confused about which exam your teen should take? Remember, if your student is a junior, the current SAT may actually be the better exam. That said, consider the December and January exams.

If your teen has scored a 7+ SAT on our 60 Second AssessmentTM and is a MaverickTM, SoundTM or Accelerated LearnerTM, the current SAT fits their testing style the best!

Call 301-299-4380 or 240-305-1184 NOW to schedule for the December 5 exam! 

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