What to expect from the new sat
By Jaspreet Kheram, senior writer
The new SAT’s will be debut on March 5th, and it will look a whole lot different than the current version in an attempt to reflect actual high school learning.
The College Board has said, instead of being a riddle to solve, the SAT would correspond with high school curriculums and better reflect what students have learned. Instead of three sections, there will now be two: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each section will be scored on a 200-to-800 scale. There is no longer a penalty for guessing. The odds are also even better now than they ever were before due to the number of possible answers decreasing from 5 to 4. The now-required essay will be optional in the new SATs and return to a top score of 1600.
As for content, the remodeled test draws heavily from math and reading standards established by the Common Core. These standards stress evidence-based interpretations of texts, vocabulary used in college and careers, and having a deeper comprehension of math concepts and applying them in real life situations.
Although the exam will still not be exactly like ACTs, the two will now be much more similar. These changes are getting mixed reviews. Some testing experts who’ve studied the College Board’s sample questions describe them as more relevant and less gimmicky. Others foresee problems, especially for those who struggle with reading.
Students can prepare for this new test by actively reading and diving into various kinds of texts, especially nonfiction, of varying difficulty. Even the math section will require more reading, with fewer questions based on equations and more word problems. Some prompts will present the same type of real world situations that the Common Core emphasizes.
After getting through all that math, test takers who opt to write the essay will have a much different assignment than they do today. The prompts, which will look familiar to those who’ve taken Advanced Placement English, ask for a critical response to a specific argument.
With all the new stuff to consider, it’s easy to forget about what’s not changing. At 3 hours 50 minutes including the essay, the SAT is still a long, exhausting test. Besides measuring what students have learned, it will measure how they perform under pressure in a high-stakes situation — just like the old model.
So the big question is which version should I take? The answer could come down to timing. Students have just one more chances to take the current SAT — the last testing date is Jan. 23.
One advantage of sticking with the current version: It’s a known quantity, and plenty of review materials exist. Those who were happy with their PSAT scores might want to take the soon-to-be-old SAT, which would look familiar to them. Most students take the SAT for the first time in spring of their junior year. Those who don’t want to rush might decide that the new test, though less familiar, fits their schedule better. But remember this: The first cohort to take the new SAT, in March, won’t get their scores until after the next test date, in May. That’s about double the current wait time.