The NEW SAT – How it’s different & Resources to Prepare

In the last sixty-three years, the SAT has only undergone one major change in 2005 when the test added a grammar and essay-based Writing score. Well just 11 years later, another  new SAT is here and the time to start preparing is fast approaching!   This new “college-readiness assessment” will more closely align with Common Core State Standards and it will more closely resemble the ACT.

The NEW SAT - How it's different & The Resources to Prepare from Starts At Eight

What has changed on the new SAT?

The changes include eliminating the vocabulary section, making the essay optional, removing the penalty for guessing ( I repeat “NO PENALTY FOR GUESSING), and focusing on the areas of math that matter most for college readiness.

Here is a breakdown of Old vs. New SAT

3 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours (plus 50 minutes for the Essay [optional])
  1. Critical Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Mathematics
  4. Essay
  1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
    • Reading Test
    • Writing and Language Test
  2. Math
  3. Essay (optional)
Important Features
  • Emphasis on general reasoning skills
  • Emphasis on vocabulary, often in limited contexts
  • Complex scoring (a point for a correct answer and a deduction for an incorrect answer; blank responses have no impact on scores)
  • Focus on the knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success
  • Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact
  • Rights-only scoring (no penalty for guessing)
  • Required and given at the beginning of the SAT
  • 25 minutes to write the essay
  • Tests writing skill; students take a position on a presented issue
  • Optional and given at the end of the SAT; postsecondary institutions determine whether they will require the Essay for admission
  • 50 minutes to write the essay
  • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills; students produce a written analysis of a provided source text
Score Reporting
  • Scale ranging from 600 to 2400
  • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Critical Reading; 200 to 800 for Mathematics; 200 to 800 for Writing
  • Essay results scaled to multiple-choice Writing
  • Scale ranging from 400 to 1600
  • Scale ranging from 200 to 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing; 200 to 800 for Math; 2 to 8 on each of three dimensions for Essay
  • Essay results reported separately
Subscore Reporting None Subscores for every test, providing added insight for students, parents, admission officers, educators, and counselors

**chart courtesy of the College Board website

What does all that mean?

  • For the new SAT math sections, students will need to have a broader range of math skills through Algebra II and into a Pre-Calculus class that has Trigonometry. Students will also need to recognize and work with function notation. Finally, students will need a solid grasp of working with probability.
  • The new SAT is using passages that have a significantly higher text complexity rating than passages on the 2005-2015 SAT. The test has added two new types of questions to the reading section: Command of Evidence and Data Interpretation. The Command of Evidence questions ask students to pinpoint where in the passage they found an answer. The Data Interpretations refer to tables or graphs that accompany two of the passages. In the easiest questions, they are simply asked to analyze the graphic. In more difficult questions, they must synthesize the data from the graphic with the information in the text.
  • The writing section of redesigned SAT looks nearly identical to the ACT at first glance, but closer examination will reveal that the new SAT passages have a higher degree of text complexity and the addition of tables and graphs. The focus of the Writing test has shifted from grammar, mechanics, and usage to rhetorical skills. There is increased focus on diction, including commonly confused words and homophones. The 1 or 2 Data Interpretation questions are quite basic in the Writing section.
  • Overall the new SAT offers students much more time per question on all sections compared to the old SAT, however the increased difficulty may prove challenging for some students.

SAT Study Resources

SAT Pinterest Board


SAT Bootcamp from Mr. D Math – This is a 6-week Online Math SAT Bootcamp. In this live, interactive program, your student will cover everything needed for success on the math portion of the SAT. In addition to learning test-taking “secrets” and strategies, and reviewing all the formulas your student needs to memorize.

Khan Academy – FREE Get to know the new SAT, see personalized practice recommendations, stay on top of important SAT dates and news, practice anytime, anywhere, at no cost!

SAT Channel from Kaplan – Kaplan offers a full range of options from self paced, live/intereactive instruction, structured classroom setting, and even personal coaching!

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