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What You Need to Know About Taking the New SAT

by Will Geiger, on Mar 2, 2016 12:00:00 PM

The SAT is a three letter acronym that strikes fear in the hearts of many high school students. In March, the College Board will be launching a redesigned SAT, which has been enough to cause full-blown panic in students.

If you are a high school student in the class of 2017 (or later) who is approaching the college admissions process, the New SAT is something you will want to know about. If you have an awesome test score on the “Old SAT,” you may still be able to use it (especially if you are in the class of 2017), but the policy will vary from school to school. For everyone else, here are a few key things to know about the New SAT:

  • The New SAT is supposed to be aligned with high school curriculum, so the idea is that your high school studies will actually help you on the SAT in a more direct way.
  • There are no penalties for guessing.
  • The number of possible answers decreases from 5 to 4 (so the probability of guessing increase from 20% to 25%).
  • The new test includes two sections (Evidence-Based Reading and Math). This means that the highest possible score on the New SAT will be 1600 instead of 2400.
  • No more obscure vocabulary words! Instead, the New SAT will emphasize words that are more relevant in college and careers.
  • Critical Reading has been turned into a new section called Evidence-Based Reading. This new section incorporates reading, writing, and language. 
  • While the essay was a mandatory part of the “Old SAT” it is now optional.
  • Number 2 pencils (as well as worrying completely erasing bubbles) are no longer a required part of the testing process. The New SAT will have a computer-based testing option.

Remember, that if you aren’t thrilled with your SAT score there are still other options:

Practice: Practice almost always improves your results when taking standardized tests like the SAT. It’s called “distributive learning,” or studying material a little bit a day over an extended period of time. And in the 21st-century test prep doesn’t need to be expensive. Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to offer free SAT test preparation for students. Through Khan Academy, students can also access four, free practice tests.

Try the ACT instead: Some students find that the ACT is a better fit for them. There are a number of ACT diagnostic tests online to get a better feel for the test and here’s a link to a quick SAT vs. ACT diagnostic.

Consider test-flexible and test-optional colleges: There are over 850 colleges and universities that are test optional and do not require test scores as part of their admissions process. There are some really fantastic schools on this list including Bowdoin College, George Washington University, Wake Forest University, and Wesleyan University.

Topics:college admission

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