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A Primer on the New SAT


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Primer on the New SAT

Have you heard about the changes coming to the SAT this year? Here is a quick summary of the most relevant changes, with links to useful resources to help you rock the New SAT. The first New SAT will be administered on March 5th (register by Feb. 5th to avoid late fees), so it is important to know how these changes will affect you if you are planning to take the SAT this year!

1. No penalty for wrong answers:

One of them most exciting changes for students is that there will no longer be penalties for wrong answers. This removes the stress of wondering whether you should take a risk and guess, or leave an answer blank to avoid a penalty.  Less stress, means more brain power to focus on what you know.

2. The redesigned essay is now optional.

Instead of being asked to write a personal essay, you will now be asked to analyze a text and explain how the author builds an argument, providing evidence from the passage. The revamped essay section is similar to a typical writing assignment you would be asked to complete in a college level course. The prompt will stay the same with every test, but the passage will be different every time.

Though the essay section is now optional, some schools will still require it, so be sure to check this list to see if the colleges you are applying to require or recommend taking the essay.

3.  Bye-bye obscure vocabulary, hello relevant words in context.

Long the bane of students everywhere, the New SAT will no longer quiz you on your knowledge of obscure words like “alacrity” and “probity.” Instead, it will ask you to define a familiar word based on how it’s used in context. For example, a sample question shows how “intense” can mean “concentrated,” “emotional” or “determined,” depending on the context.

4.  More evidenced-based reading questions and more graphs and charts.

The reading section is now more focused on analyzing texts and gathering evidence, using real life skills you are learning in the classroom. You will be asked a question about the text, and then asked which piece of evidence best supports that answer.  The new test will also have more questions that will ask you to infer information from graphs and charts, even in the reading section.

5.  More classroom relevant texts.

In an effort to be more relevant with what you are studying in school, the new SAT reading section will include excerpts from U.S. founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, as well as other important works by authors including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr. You will not be expected to be familiar with these documents beforehand, but chances are you will have already seen a few of these texts in some of your classes.

When to take the SAT

If you are wondering when is the right time to take the SAT, most students take the SAT for the first time in spring of junior year, and a second time during fall of senior year. Here is a list of upcoming dates to consider if you are looking to take the New SAT this spring:

  • March 5th (Deadline to Register February 5th)
  • May 7th (Deadline to Register April 8th)
  • June 4th (Deadline to Register May 5th)

Register for the SAT (or set a reminder to register for a future date) here:

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