For a standardized test, the SAT is anything but standard. Every few years the test changes, and the class of 2017 will be the first to take the redesigned SAT debuting March 2016.
Some of the changes are kind of awesome for the test takers, but others might prove to make the SAT harder than ever before. The best way to prepare yourself? Know what to expect. Check out the best and worst changes to the redesigned SAT below.
The Best Changes
1. No Penalty for Wrong Answers
Like the ACT, the redesigned SAT won’t deduct points for questions answered incorrectly, so make your best guess!
2. Essay Is Optional
Students are no longer required to write an essay, but some colleges and scholarship providers still require it. The essay will be scored separately from the rest of the exam, bringing the best possible score back to 1600 instead of 2400 (800 for each section).
The essay portion will come at the end of the test, and students will have more time to complete it – 50 minutes instead of 25 minutes.
Another change to the essay is that Instead of disagreeing or agreeing with a statement for the writing section, students will be asked to read a passage and explain how the author is persuading the audience.
3. Fewer Questions
The redesigned SAT has fewer questions – 154 versus 171 on the old test. This will give students more time to go back over sections and check their answers as well as make them feel less rushed.
In addition, it will take less time. While the old test took 225 minutes, the new one takes 180 minutes if you skip the optional essay.
4. Fewer Answer Choices
There will be only four answer choices instead of five, just like on the ACT. That means you already have a 25% chance of getting a question right instead of 20%.
“Our research has indicated that the fifth answer choice added little to the measurement value of questions and, in some cases, actually detracted from the quality of the question content,” according to Jaslee Carayol, a spokeswoman for The College Board.
5. Free Online Test Prep
The Khan Academy test prep has a new, exclusive relationship with the College Board, which designs the SAT, meaning their free online prep might be extremely helpful (and also extremely accessible).
The Worst Changes
1. Long Reading Section
On the old SAT, the reading section was completed in three parts – 25 minutes, 25 minutes, and 20 minutes. Now, it will be done in 65 minutes straight.
“The reading section is rough,” Johnson said. “It’s 65 minutes straight of reading. It’s kind of like, ‘Pow!’ smacks you right in the face. For most kids, that’s really hard.”
2. Questions Require Multiple Steps To Get The Answer
The reading section will also be more focused on evidence. Students will be asked a question about the text, then asked which piece of evidence best supports that answer. However, if you get the first question wrong, it could be hard to get the second question right.
The redesigned SAT gets rid of those crazy vocabulary words you’ll probably never use in favor of words that are more familiar, but you’ll need to know how the word can be used in different instances.