(“The New SAT Will Premiere in Spring, 2016” is the second of two articles about changes in standardized test student assessments for elementary through high school students. Part one, “PARCC Test Will Replace the NJ ASK in the 2014-2015 School Year,” was a blog post dated 3-31-14.)

Why Is the SAT Changing?

The SAT, a standardized college admissions test used in the United States and other countries to assess a student’s application of knowledge and ability to reason, will be undergoing changes in the spring of 2016. The last time the test experienced a major overhaul was back in 2005 when the 25-minute essay was added, increasing the perfect score from 1600 to 2400. The College Board, a non-profit organization, produces the SAT, which is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

The SAT, an aptitude test, is often regarded as an unfair assessment of students’ true comprehension and application of the school curriculum, or what students actually learn in the classroom. Does the current SAT assess knowledge and the application of learned concepts, or does it merely assess a student’s ability to take a test?

Another area of concern about the current SAT is the pricey cost of SAT preparation courses. The threat of low SAT scores sabotaging college admission aspirations results in many parents shelling out hundreds of dollars for SAT prep courses that promise to increase scores by revealing SAT test-taking strategies and specific test-taking skills. Indeed, SAT preparation is a big business, and oftentimes, students unable to afford the heftily-priced SAT prep classes are left at a major disadvantage.

Over the past few years, the ACT, the SAT’s rival college admissions assessment, has gained popularity because it focuses more on what students have learned in school.  According to The New York Times article, “A New SAT Aims to Realign with Schoolwork” from March 5, 2014, the SAT has become less popular than the SAT, with 1.8 million ACT test-takers versus 1.7 million SAT test-takers last year. The ACT is comprised of subject area tests in mathematics, reading, English, and science.

How Will the SAT Change?

The new SAT premiering in 2016 will showcase different test questions aligned with the high school curriculum and focused on evidence-based thinking. It will assess knowledge developed and learned through the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which have been instituted in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms to address college and career readiness through a continuum of learning over the entire course of a student’s education.

 The new SAT will present the following changes:

 Overall Changes

  • Paper and computer versions
  • Scoring on a 1600 scale (800 math and 800 evidence-based reading and writing)
  • No penalties for incorrect guesses and wrong answers
  • Test time of three hours (add 50 minutes for the optional essay)
  • Programs to help low-income students, such as fee waivers
  • Free online test preparation through the College Board partnering with Khan Academy, which aims to give all students access to test preparation

Math Section

  • Focus on problem solving and data analysis using linear equations, functions, proportions, and percentages (a calculator will be permitted only in certain sections)

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section

  • More commonly-used vocabulary in line with coursework across subjects and presented in context
  • Focus on reading comprehension and text revision
  • Text-based evidence and support for answers
  • Fiction and non-fiction reading passages representative of a variety of school subjects, including humanities, science, history, and social studies, with the inclusion of non-text elements such as graphs, charts, and other graphics
  • Each test will have a passage from a U.S. founding document or a passage that has impacted global conversation


  • Optional 50-minute written essay that will require students to analyze a provided source document and/or critique the author’s presentation, then support their positions and reasoning using text-based evidence; the prompt will remain consistent from test to test, but the accompanying text will change

For more detailed information on the new SAT of 2016, visit the College Board’s “The Redesigned SAT” at https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign.

All About Writing offers SAT preparation as part of our one-on-one tutoring sessions. We can help students gain strength with their evidence-based reading and writing, as well as general writing skills.


Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com. Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

-by Christa Riddle


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