What You Should Know About The NEW SAT!

From Coach K – Raymond Karelitz

Beginning in March 2016, the Redesigned SAT replaced the former SAT, introducing significant changes in both test format and test objectives. A new approach to taking the test has become necessary, including a more detailed focus on specific key elements.

The PSAT (given in October) remains the earliest opportunity for students to see what they will encounter on the SAT. But of equal importance, the PSAT also includes an accompanying Questionnaire that is valuable for the information it offers to colleges and is reason enough never to miss taking the PSAT in one’s 10th & 11th Grades!

Here are key changes on the SAT to be aware of:

  • The scoring system maximum is 1600 points (no longer 2400, as was the norm from 2005-2015)—this reverts back to the 1600-point system we all remember when we took the SAT “long ago.”
  • The Essay is optional, though it is HIGHLY recommended that all students include the essay with the test. Colleges will be looking at this score, too—and if there is no score, it could prove to be a problem. The contents of the essay (as well as length) have been dramatically changed—all strategies utilized on previous tests regarding the Essay are no longer valid. It’s a totally new approach, one now requiring student analysis and factually supported explication.
  • The Reading sections and Grammar sections have been combined, producing two long test-sections (rather than several shorter tests) which together determine the Reading score. The Grammar section is similar to the ACT in format, making it easier to manage. The Reading Passages are also more friendly—they are less technical and confusing and more “readable”—but the questions no longer automatically yield line-numbers for reference. In short, one needs to actually READ the passages and glean relevant information. This has resulted in the first dramatic reading-strategy-changes in a decade! But there is good news with the changes: the vocabulary is not as difficult; the passages are easier to understand; there are many easy-to-answer “vocabulary-in-context” questions; there are more General questions (also easier to answer); and there are “coupled questions”, something new on the SAT! All in all, the Reading section is quite exciting—and, in my opinion, easier to manage when compared with the time-tight ACT Reading Test.
  • The Mathematics section has undergone significant changes, requiring a solid grounding in both Algebra and Applied Geometry. Problems also now demand analytical problem-solving which may include metric conversions and chart interpretation. Although the level of Math has increased—now ranging from basic arithmetic word problems to pre-Calculus number series—the main focus of the Redesigned SAT is on Algebra I . In addition, one section allows use of a calculator, the other does not. Both sections contain questions requiring student-produced answers (also known as “Grid-Ins”), a carryover from the previous test format. And, as in the past, Mathematics questions progress from easier to harder problems on each section. Therefore, a carefully prepared strategy is of utmost value to maximize results on the new SAT Mathematics sections.
  • There is no longer any penalty for wrong answers! Therefore, though many previous SAT strategies may still apply, in the Redesigned SAT NO ANSWERS SHOULD BE LEFT BLANK. (“If you don’t know it, GUESS.”) Of course, test-taking prep-classes help show how to make an EDUCATED GUESS, but fact is, LEAVE NO BLANKS!

There are many changes on the new SAT, but the keys to good test-taking—time-management and elimination—are still at the helm. Nonetheless, the Redesigned SAT has undergone a truly amazing metamorphosis and is now a well-produced test of both a student’s problem-solving skills and of one’s basic academic abilities.

Our test-prep program has one key objective in mind: to give students a strategic approach to better manage time and then to utilize this time to select better answers. The end result is greater student confidence and immediate score-increases.

Ray “Coach K” Karelitz