New SAT Begins Today: What You Need to Know


Today marks the beginning of the new SAT, and as I have discussed for the past several weeks, there will be many changes to the test. For today, I will review some of the key changes, how the new SAT compares to the ACT, and SAT score information.

Scores: Concordance & Schedule

If you haven’t already heard, the new SAT has a different score structure. The composite score range has changed from 600-2400 to 400-1600. Reading and Writing are combined into a single subscore (200-800), and Math is the other subscore (200-800). Now, what does that mean to you? You probably want to know how the old scores and new scores relate to each other. Many students ask, for example, “What is a 2000+ score equivalent on the new SAT?” There are concordance tables available from when the SAT changed in 2005, but the official ones will not be released until May 2016.

Speaking of May 2016, that is when you can expect to see your test scores if you take the March test. College Board wants to get a lot of raw score data--from the March and May tests--before it releases the official reports to students. Whether you like it or not, the first couple tests are the “guinea pig” rounds. Of course, you shouldn’t expect anything bad to happen, but you will have a large delay with your score report. That delay may create challenges if you want to take another test before summer. The recommendation? If you took the March test, plan on taking it again in May.

New SAT vs. ACT

Now that the SAT has changed and there is some mystery about how colleges will react to the test, students are looking for other options. The ACT is the only other college admission exam, and it hasn’t gone through any major changes in a long time. You may be wondering how these two tests compare. I’ll save you the details of how long each sections are and all the really basic comparisons. Here’s the deal: the new SAT and ACT are still largely different tests. The only similarity is the Writing section. ACT and new SAT have nearly identical Writing/English sections. ACT rewards students who work faster with more straightforward problems. New SAT rewards students who have the stamina to solve complex problems. In the end, ACT still seems to be an “easier” test, but you should plan on taking both.

Content Review: Reading/Writing, Math, & Essay

I’ve written about the content changes extensively, but I will summarize some of the key points here. For Critical Reading, students will have the benefit of a single section. The question types are the largely the same, but there are a couple new ones, including evidence and graphics questions. This will be the hardest section for many students. Writing is entirely different now; it is basically the ACT English section, with little differences. Math focuses a lot more on formulas, algebraic expressions, and pre-calculus; you can’t “work through tricks” as much to solve the Math problems.

What’s the takeaway from all of this? You should expect a challenging test, and while College Board claims that it has aligned the test better with school curriculum, the SAT remains similar to its old form, and standardized tests in general. Sure, you need to “build skills,” but you still need to prepare and learn the test. Thankfully, here at B2A, we have plenty of classes, camps, and resources to help you along the way.

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