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Breaking News: SAT is Getting A Major Makeover Posted on:Thursday, March 20th, 2014


There is exciting news on the future of the SAT! By Spring 2016, gone will be obscure vocabulary words and the penalty for wrong answers – and the essay could be optional!

In our last post, we discussed tips on how to score higher on the SAT because – frankly – you need to! As we mentioned, the SAT remains the accepted measure a student’s potential for colleges and universities. Interestingly enough, critics have noted that the current SAT does not align with the schoolwork given in high school or test the skills needed to succeed in college and beyond. CUE THE MAKEOVER!

There are actually 8 key changes on the new SAT:

  • Relevant Words in Context

Instead of being tested on obscure vocabulary words, students will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of a given passage. Better yet, these words will be used by students throughout their lives, not just for the SAT.

  • Command of Evidence

On the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources. This reflects the real work of college as well as a student’s future career.

  • Essay Analyzing a Source

For the Essay section, students will read a passage and explain how an author builds an argument. They will demonstrate close reading, careful analysis, and clear writing – which exemplifies the type of writing assignments given in college. While this portion will be “optional”, it will ultimately depend on the school district and college as to whether or not they will still require it.

  • Math Focused on 3 Key Areas

The Math section will focus on 3 key areas: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math. There will be additional math topics, though again, it will align with college and career readiness.

  • Problems Grounded in Real World Contexts

In the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, reading questions including literature and literary nonfiction will also feature charts, graphs and passages. This will be similar to the type of work students will encounter in science, social science, and other majors and careers. The Math section will similarly have problems in science, social science, career scenarios, and other real life contexts.

  • Analysis in Science and Social Studies

 Students will be expected to comprehend challenging texts and informational graphics in order to solve problems based in science and social science. This is designed to help students make sense of recent discoveries, political developments, global events, and health and environmental issues.

  • Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation

Students will be asked to examine a founding document, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution or a text from the Great Global Conversation that is occurring today regarding freedom, justice, and human dignity. This will engage students, as citizens, to become more socially and politically aware.

  • No Penalty for Wrong Answers

Students will simply earn points for every right answer, and not have points taken away for wrong ones. This will encourage the students to give their best answer to every problem.

More details, including extensive sample items, will be available next month (April 16, 2014) on College Board. The new version will begin rolling out in the Spring of 2016 – hooray for current high school freshman! If you’re an upperclassmen and the new version doesn’t apply to you, DON’T FRET. Instead, visit our last post for tips to score higher on the current SAT.

Overall, this redesign of the SAT will better reflect what is expected in college and beyond. It will return to the 1600-point scale, where the Essay will have a separate (and perhaps optional) score. The other great news is that The College Board is planning to offer FREE test prep materials for the new SAT through the nonprofit Khan Academy. This could provide a more level playing field for all students to do better on the SAT, regardless of one’s ability to afford extra test prep.

What are your thoughts on the new SAT? Does the redesign sound promising? Let us know in the comments below!

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