Sophomores and the New SAT

Starting in the spring of 2016, the SAT will change from a three hour and 45 minute test of reasoning and vocabulary to a three hour long test emphasizing the knowledge and understanding that should be held by high school students by the time they graduate. The new SAT is designed to show a greater insight into the students’ strengths.

Unlike the previous SAT, the new SAT does not deduct points for wrong answers promoting guessing. Scores range from 400-1600 rather than the previous 600-2400. This is because the essay is optional, and the critical reading and writing sections are compressed into one section: evidence-based reading and writing.

The decision to make the essay optional resulted from the increase in editing work in the evidence-based reading and writing section. Furthermore, many colleges did not find the essay useful in evaluating students, making the essay writing pointless for many students.

The new essay section will be based off of the analysis of a source document. Though the prompt will be shared in advance and will remain constant, the passage will vary.

On the current SAT, calculators are permitted on all of the math sections. However, the redesigned SAT consists of two math sections, only one of which permits calculator use, much to the dismay of teenagers who will be taking the test. This section is meant to test students’ fluency in math and understanding of mathematical concepts.

With major changes to the test, it is understandable that there would be changes to the pre-test as well. The PSAT/NMSQT will be changing along with the SAT, starting October 2015. Therefore, sophomores who took the PSAT/NMSQT this year should expect great changes if they take the test again next year.

Although the changes to the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT will not affect the upperclassman, the current sophomore class of 2017 will feel the changes very directly as the first group taking the new test. For many who know the SAT well, be it from siblings or practice tests, this will be a major hurdle.

A change in the testing style could make the test easier for most. Taking out the mandatory essay and cutting down the number of sections makes the test appear more manageable. Hopefully this will help ease the stress of many of the more competitive students.

Students are recommended to become familiar with this new testing style and are wished the best of luck on the new test.