“I was prepared.” A Satisfied Churchill Student

“It was long, but there were no surprises. I felt pretty prepared for it”. A Confident RM Student

“Ready. I think I did OK.”  A  Relieved Holton Student

The above comments are from students who went into the March exam knowing what to expect and felt prepared. FYI: All three scored better or comparable to practice exams. Based on these three students’ experiences, it doesn’t appear they thought the exam hard.  I tend to agree.

  • Scores on the March exam correlated higher than the previous SAT.  Putting that into perspective, the average on the former SAT out of 2400 was 1500 which should correlate to 1000 on the new test. Guess what? The average score on the new test was around 1090. Could that be the College Board’s way of attracting more students (since they have been losing market share to the ACT)?
  • Since there is no longer a penalty for guessing – like the ACT – students do not need to ruminate whether or not to skip a challenging question – time better spent guessing and moving on. This also tended to push the average scores up.
  • Students don’t feel quite as pressed as each section is allotting more time per section than on the previous SAT and significantly more than on the ACT: 45% more on the Math; 33% more on the Writing/language; 43% more on the Reading.
  • By reducing the MC choices from 5 to 4, it increases the odds of selecting the right answer, especially if guessing.
  • Standardized exams seem to carry the myth that they are ‘hard ‘even though there is an average of only 10 percent or less of the questions that are labeled ‘hard’ – students tend to remember what they struggled with. That said, these exams are designed so that 60 percent of the test-takers get a given question correct.
  • Even if the content ‘feels’ harder to the student, the College Board (and ACT) all equate the scores, in that 90 percent could actually equal 80 percent in terms of an SAT score.
  • NOTE: Many, if not most of the students who opt out of the SAT essay, will take an ‘experimental’ 20 minute MC section that could be at the beginning or end of the test. (This did occur during the May administration.) These questions are used for ‘research’ and perhaps to test their validity on future exams. They are not factored into the ultimate test score. The experimental section on the former SAT was an additional, math, critical reading, or writing section plugged anywhere among the first 5 sections.

So does it sound like the test is ‘hard’? Since I have been teaching the skills and strategies for the new SAT for a year, I agree with my students: It’s not hard if you are prepared. My take as a tutor: Because of the changes, it’s generally easier.

It’s not too late to find out what your teen’s better test is and create a personalized road map from high school to college. Schedule here or call 301.299.4380.

Acknowledgment for this article: Is the SAT Hard, Murphy, James. The Atlantic.  May 12, 2016.

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