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New SAT vs Old SAT: What’s the difference?

There have been some major changes in the SAT of late. Here’s a breakthrough of how the new paper’s going to look like.

SAT May 2016 Onwards

The College Board made content, format, and scoring changes to the SAT in 2016. The redesigned SAT test prioritizes content that reflects the kind of reading and math students will encounter in college and their future work lives. This would be first administered worldwide in May 2016 however the initial administration was carried out in March 2016 only in the USA.

Old SAT vs. New SAT (2016)

Scoring 600 – 2400 400 – 1600
Sub score and Cross-test Scores available
Timing 3 Hours 45 Minutes 3 Hours (+50 minutes’ optional essay)
Sections  Critical Reading: 200-800

 Writing: 200-800

 Math: 200-800

 Essay (included in Writing score)

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200-800

Math: 200-800

Optional Essay (separately scored)

Guessing Penalty 1/4 the Negative marking No Negative Marking
Format Available in print Available in print or on computer

New SAT Structure

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Math
Sections 65-minute Reading section

35-minute Writing and Language section

25-minute No Calculator section

55-minute Calculator section

Questions  52 Questions (Reading)

 44 Questions (Writing and Language)

20 Questions (No Calculator)

38 Questions (Calculator)

Score Range 200-800 200-800

Highlights of Each section

Here’s a rough sketch of what to expect on the new test.

  • Evidence-based Reading & Writing

The English section has been clubbed into one that would comprise of the comprehension as well as the grammar based questions. No more sentence completions and focus will be on multiple-meaning words. Passages will draw from significant historical or scientific documents – may include informational graphics, such as charts, also known as questions with supplements. The reading passages will include complex structure and vocabulary. The grammar or the writing part of the section would not have direct error identification questions rather it would be passage-based grammar – including punctuation. The writing section will also have at least one question with supplement.

  • Math

The other part of the test will be the quantitative aptitude/math section. More focus on application-based, multi-step questions. Higher-level math, including trigonometry. One set of “extended-thinking” grid-in questions (worth 4 points). Core math competencies (translating math into English and English into math) A deep understanding of the theories behind mathematical principles, such as building equations. The 2 sections are categorized as CALCULATOR AND NON-CALCULATOR sections where the former is of longer duration.

  • Essay

The essay is optional (50 minutes, timed). Students will be provided a substantial passage (600–700 words) and will then be asked to analyze how the author built their argument; students will need to understand the techniques authors used to write persuasively.


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