The results are in! This summer and fall, along with tutoring seniors for the current SAT and ACT, I have also been busy tutoring students to prepare them for the October 14 PSAT – which mirrors the redesigned SAT debuting on March 5, 2016.
I will be sharing what I have learned about both the new SAT reading and writing/language sections relative to the current SAT and ACT. I will also share what I have learned about the math section as well, with the helpful insight of my math director, Charles Upton. I declared a WINNER as to which is the better test between the three exams*:
- Since all of my students have been taught how to increase their reading efficiency – improving speed and comprehension – time is not an issue. Caveat: The new SAT vs. the current SAT has given students about 20% more time on the reading; relative to the ACT, 47% more time. WINNER: NEW SAT as students should never feel rushed on this test.
- The current SAT contains the sentence completion question where one or two words are deleted from a sentence. The options often involve the choice of challenging vocabulary to complete the sentence. Both the ACT and new SAT test ‘every day’ vocabulary that can have more than one definition. The advantage is that this question type provides the context of a paragraph, not merely a single sentence to aid in answering the question. TIE: NEW SAT and ACT
- The questions and wording of the options are much clearer than on the current SAT – actually very similar to syntax of the ACT. The new SAT questions tend to be in order of the reading whereas the ACT questions are not. WINNER: NEW SAT
- Both the ACT and redesigned SAT only have 4 choices – current SAT has 5 choices. TIE: NEW SAT and ACT
- Both the ACT and the new SAT have no penalty for an incorrect answer where the current SAT takes off 1/4 point for each wrong response. TIE: NEW SAT and ACT
- The current SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes; the essay is mandatory. The new SAT is 3 hours + 50 minute optional essay. NOTE: Only 13% of colleges are saying they want the new SAT essay. Those that do are the more select schools. The ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes + 40 minute optional essay. More schools require the ACT essay. WINNER: NEW SAT: Shorter, especially without the essay.
- The current SAT has 10 repeating multiple choice sections in no predictable order – critical reading, writing, math. Both the new SAT and ACT have 4 multiple choice sections in the same known order. The ACT not only tests reading, grammar – English – and math, but it has a science section. WINNER: NEW SAT. Fewer sections that are in a predictable order and there is no separate science section – reading and analysis of charts and graphs.
- On the new SAT, the reading and writing language constitute one score, 200-800; math is the other scored section, 200-800. There is a separate writing score. Maximum score: 1600. The current SAT has 3 scoring sections, critical reading, math, writing + essay score factored into the writing, 800 each. Maximum score: 2400. ACT has 4 scoring sections 1-36, with a composite score provided. The essay is factored into the English and reading scores. WINNER: NEW SAT as the essay scoring is a separate entity
- The Writing section on the current SAT can be tricky for a lot of students especially since most of the question errors are within a single sentence. The new SAT pretty much stole the English format from the ACT for this section: the sentence errors – in mechanics, usage or rhetoric – is contained within a reading passage providing more valuable context. WINNER: NEW SAT
- The Writing/language section on the new SAT is giving students about 33% more time than on comparable English on the ACT. WINNER: NEW SAT
- The wording on the rhetoric question on the redesigned SAT is much more clearly stated than on the ACT. WINNER: NEW SAT
- The new SAT math provides students with about 50% more time than the ACT math, and about 15% more time than the current SAT. WINNER: NEW SAT
- The math tested on the current SAT has few advanced concepts, but it is heavy on geometry and logical reasoning. The new SAT is Algebra II/trig heavy which correlates more to most students’ school level math as does the ACT. The ACT tests a wider range of math concepts than does the new SAT. WINNER: NEW SAT
Still not sure which test your student should take? *Remember, the above are generic assessments and do not take into account the learning style and personality of the student. That said, now is the time to schedule your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session.
Need for your teen to learn more about the PSAT on October 14th? Click here for information about our PSAT Workshop Oct. 11th.