The Difference Between the New SAT and the Old SAT


Now that the school year has come to a close, students have more free time. With all the extra hours, it seems like they can spend more time relaxing and recovering from all their homework and tests. However, summer is a great time to get acquainted with extra-curricular pursuits that will prove useful for the upcoming school year and for future college admission applications. And while there are many things to consider, one key decision is which college admission test you should take and begin studying for this summer.

While there are a few choices when it comes to college admission tests, let’s focus on the SAT. College Board, the company that develops and administers the SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests, has recently announced that the SAT will come in a new format starting March 2016. For the longest time, the details of the change were shrouded in mystery, but here at Berkeley2 Academy, we have been able to gather the important facts about this change. In the cheat sheet provided, you can see how the Old SAT and New SAT compare and contrast.

NUMBER OF SECTIONS

OLD SAT: 9 sections, including essay

NEW SAT: 4 sections, essay optional

NUMBER OF QUESTIONS

OLD SAT: 170 questions

NEW SAT: 154 questions

TIME LIMIT

OLD SAT: 4 hours

NEW SAT: 3 hours

READING + WRITING SCORE

OLD SAT: Reading: 200-800; Writing: 200-800

NEW SAT: Reading + Writing: 200-800

MATH SCORE

OLD SAT: M: 200-800

NEW SAT: M: 200-800

ESSAY SCORE

OLD SAT: Essay: 0-12, accounts for 30% of Writing score

NEW SAT: Essay: 0-12, not part of Writing score

PENALTIES

OLD SAT: -1/4 points for a wrong answer

NEW SAT: No penalties for wrong answers

CALCULATOR USE

OLD SAT: ALL of test

NEW SAT: SOME of test

SAT CR--TIME LIMIT

OLD SAT: Three sections: 25 minutes, 25 minutes, and 20 minutes

NEW SAT: One section: 65 minutes

SAT CR--PASSAGES

OLD SAT: Short, Medium, Long, Paired

NEW SAT: Medium, Long, Paired

SAT CR--QUESTIONS

OLD SAT: Sentence Completion and Passages

NEW SAT: Passages

SAT CR--VOCABULARY

OLD SAT: A lot of high-level vocabulary

NEW SAT: Some high-level vocabulary

SAT WR--TIME LIMIT

OLD SAT: Two sections: 35 minutes and 10 minutes

NEW SAT: One section: 35 minutes

SAT WR--PASSAGES/QUESTIONS

OLD SAT: Sentence correction, error identification, and passage revision

NEW SAT: Passage revision

SAT WR--GRAMMAR FOCUS

OLD SAT: Pronouns, Subject-Verb Agreement, Tenses, Parallelism, Comparisons, Adjective/Adverbs, Idioms, Diction, Sentence Construction

NEW SAT: All Old SAT grammar content + Punctuation, Paragraph Construction, and Graphics Usage

SAT ESSAY--TIME LIMIT

OLD SAT: One section: 25 minutes

NEW SAT: One section: 50 minutes

SAT ESSAY--QUESTIONS/PROMPTS

OLD SAT: Question on abstract topic that requires you to write a persuasive essay using literary and historical examples that you choose

NEW SAT: You review an article provided and write an essay that analyzes the article’s argument and evidence

SAT MATH--TIME LIMIT

OLD SAT: Three sections: 25 minutes, 25 minutes, 20 minutes

NEW SAT: Two sections: 25 minutes and 55 minutes

SAT MATH--QUESTIONS/LEVEL

OLD SAT: Mathematics up to Algebra II, including Geometry and basic Statistics

NEW SAT: Mathematics up to Algebra II, including Geometry, basic Statistics, and basic Trigonometry

For some students, they will not be able to choose Old SAT or New SAT; however, others will get to make a choice. By using this cheat sheet, you can ask yourself, “Do I take the Old SAT in Fall 2015/Winter 2016 or do I wait for the new test in Spring 2016?” While it may not make for the most adventurous summer, thinking about what test you will take and knowing about the new changes will help pave the way for an excellent life journey.

(image credit: editions.lib.umn.edu)

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