If you’re writing the SAT on January 23rd 2016, you’ll be writing the old version (this has been in place since 2005). If you’re writing on March 5th, 2016, you’ll be writing the new format.
Here are the 4 major changes:
- You now have a math section which must be completed without a calculator.
- There is no penalty for guessing the wrong answer, so fill in every circle on your bubble sheet!
- The essay is analytical rather than persuasive.
- Data such as charts, graphs and tables is now included in the writing, reading and math portions. Overall, there is a lot of data analysis in this test.
Here’s how the test looks when you write it:
Section 1: Reading (65 minutes, 52 questions based on 5 passages). This section is very similar to the ACT reading section. It also contains charts and graphs, both within the passages, and within the questions (i.e. you are asked which graph best represents the idea expressed in a sentence).
Section 2: Writing and Language (35 minutes, 44 questions based on 4 passages). You have passages of text containing errors which you must correct from the options provided. Again, this is most similar to the ACT English section. The difference is that there is also data within the passage and within the questions.
Section 3: Math (25 minutes to complete 20 questions without a calculator). The questions are mostly on algebra and require you to manipulate equations and formulae. Some questions are not multiple choice.
Section 4: Math (55 minutes to complete 37 questions with a calculator). The questions involved a lot of data and tables. You may find a graphing calculator and some knowledge of statistics helpful here. Some questions are not multiple choice, but rather grid-in answers, as on previous tests.
Section 5: Essay (50 minutes). You must analyse a passage (always a published text, often well known) to demonstrate how evidence, reasoning or persuasive elements are used to build an argument.
Who will be writing this new SAT?
If you’re in your junior year (Grade 11) in 2015-6, you should write the ACT. If you’re in your sophomore year (Grade 10) or younger, you should choose between the ACT and the SAT.
How does the scoring work now?
The scoring has returned to the pre-2005 scale. This means that a 1600 is the new perfect score. This is made up of two scores out of 800 each – reading/writing and math. The lowest score on each section is 200, meaning that you can score anywhere between 400-1600 overall. The essay is now optional, so it’s now scored separately. Your score report also contains a bunch of other scores relating to certain skills – for example, you get a score for ‘Analysis in Science’. Your main score is the important one though. Read more from the College Board .
Where should I go to find out more?
The College Board website is most frequently updated. Try following them on Twitter as well.
Here are 6 free practice tests from the College board! You can also check out the resources on Khan Academy (note that at the moment, there are more resources for the old version than the new).