Preparing for the “New” SAT

Three years ago the SAT changed, just as dramatically as it did a decade before. There is no longer any penalty for guessing incorrectly. Less emphasis has been placed on knowing difficult words–though students who read a lot and know their vocabulary still enjoy a great advantage on the test. The Writing and Critical Reading sections have been combined, so the perfect cumulative score has returned to 1600; Math once again account for 50% of the total score. The optional essay is now a test of analytical ability.

Why did the SAT people change the test again?

They lost market share to the ACT. They can say up and down that this isn’t the case, but most of their changes made the SAT more like the ACT.

The New SAT is billed as emphasizing ‘real-world’ math, reading and writing skills. To some extent, this is true: the test requires kids to be more thorough in their analysis of the reading and grammar passages, the different math questions, and the source material for the optional essay.

How does this affect you?

Prepare recommends that all students at least familiarize themselves with both the PSAT/SAT and the ACT (take a practice test from a book or on-line) so they can determine which test works better for them.