What Is The SAT?
The SAT is a standardized examination designed to measure students’ abilities in three areas: reading, writing, and mathematical reasoning. The SAT is written and administered by the College Board. Many American colleges and universities require SAT scores for admission and consider these scores an important factor in judging the quality of applicants. Why do colleges care about the SAT? Because grading standards vary from one high school to another, it can be hard for colleges to know whether two applicants with the same grades are performing at the same level. Therefore, having everyone take the same standardized test gives schools another metric for judging your abilities against another student’s. Of course, SAT scores aren’t the only things that colleges consider when assessing applicants. Your high school grades, course selection, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and application essays are all factors that colleges will use to decide whether you are a good fit for their school. However, in today’s highly competitive admissions process, a solid SAT score may provide you with the extra edge needed to be successful.
The College Board is implementing significant changes to the SAT that will take effect in the spring of 2016. The new SAT will include a Reading Test, a Writing Test, and a Math Test. Together, the Reading and Writing Test scores will contribute to an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Area score from 200 to 800 points, and the Math Test score will contribute to a Math Area score from 200 to 800 points. Therefore, your total SAT score on the new exam will be between 400 and 1600. In comparison, the old SAT had a score range from 600 to 2400.
The new SAT will also include an optional Essay Test. The essay will be assigned a separate score that will not factor into your total scaled score for the SAT. Instead, you’ll receive an essay score from 1-4 on three specific criteria: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The changes to the SAT extend beyond the new format and scoring. The content of the sections will also undergo important revisions. In the Reading and Writing Tests, you’ll see a greater emphasis on assessing writing conventions and the author’s command of evidence. You’ll see passages from a wider range of disciplines, including excerpts from the “Founding Documents” and the “Great Global Conversation.” You’ll also see vocabulary that is less obscure and used more widely in college.
The Math Test will focus on the core math areas of algebra and data analysis, and will feature more questions drawn from real-life situations. On the optional Essay Test, you’ll be given more time (50 minutes), and you’ll be asked to demonstrate your ability to analyze data and explain an author’s writing style.
The new SAT will also eliminate the guessing penalty. When answering multiple choice questions, you will no longer be deducted a 1/4 point for wrong answers. Also, the new exam offers only 4 answer choices (A to D), compared to 5 answer choices (A to E) for the old exam. You now have a better chance of guessing the right answer (1 in 4 chance) and also won’t be penalized for it!
Old SAT vs. Current SAT (2016)
|Old SAT||Current SAT|
|Scoring||600 – 2400||400 – 1600
Subscore and Cross-test Scores available
|Timing||3 Hours 45 Minutes||3 Hours (+50 minute optional essay)|
|Guessing Penalty||1/4 guessing penalty||no guessing penalty|
Current SAT Structure
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing||Math|
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