(This is the second of two articles about the new SAT. Part one, “The New SAT: The Optional Essay Isn’t Optional,” was featured in our September, 2016, blog.)

In our last blog, “The New SAT: The Optional Essay Isn’t Optional,” we provided detailed information on the essay portion of the newly-designed SAT, as well as a general test overview. Here, we will discuss the changes specific to the new SAT’s multiple choice reading and writing sections.

In March, 2016, the College Board released an updated version of the SAT. One major change that comes with the new SAT is the evidenced-based reading and writing/language section.

Before, critical reading and writing were separate test sections, each receiving its own distinct score of up to 800 (the total possible test score was 2400, including the math section). The writing section score also previously included the essay; however, with the new test, the essay is optional and has its own independent score. The new SAT has a combined evidence-based reading and writing/language score, bringing the test’s total possible score to 1600 (still 800 per section).

Timing and Number of Questions per Section

For the new test, there is one, 65-minute multiple choice reading section with 52 questions (5 passages with 10 to 11 multiple-choice questions per passage) and one, 35-minute multiple choice writing and language section (4 passages with 11 multiple choice questions per passage).

For a general test overview, read All About Writing’s last blog, “The New SAT: The Optional Essay Isn’t Optional,” https://allaboutwritingconsulting.com/2016/09/the-new-sat-the-optional-essay-isnt-optional/.

What Can Students Expect from the Evidence-Based Reading Test?

The reading test is aligned with what students are learning in school and also projects to what they will need to know for success in college. The focus is on higher-order thinking skills, such as investigating, interpreting, re-applying, critiquing, analyzing, and distinguishing information, all with text evidence. The passages, presented singly or as a pair, feature text from U.S. and world literature, U.S. founding documents, great global conversations, impactful speeches, and subjects spanning science, economics, and the social sciences. There will also be correlated graphics accompanying some passages, such as tables, charts, and graphs.

Students are not required to tap into prior knowledge; in fact, over-analyzing or applying background knowledge can hinder test-taking and lead to choosing the wrong answer. The emphasis is reading for critical information and choosing answers directly supported and provided by the provided text. Some questions will be paired: students will have to support their first answer with text support from the passage in order to answer the second question of the pair.

Rather than testing SAT-specific vocabulary in isolation and without context, all questions referencing word meaning will be provided directly from the text so that students can infer meaning using context clues. Keep in mind, a solid base of vocabulary, as well as knowledge of prefixes, roots, and suffixes, will still prove to be an asset in the new reading section.

For more information on the evidence-based reading section of the new SAT and sample questions, visit https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/inside-the-test/reading.

What Can Students Expect from the Writing and Language Test?

The new writing and language section of the SAT has students edit and improve passages to test their knowledge of the written word. It is aligned with high school writing and editing skills, as well as the writing aptitudes necessary to do well in college. The multiple-choice questions in this section have students assume the role of an editor with an eye for detail, assessing their knowledge of the English language, the development of meaning, and writing construction.

Like the reading section, passages may include info-graphics (charts, graphs, and tables) and will span various narrative, argumentative and non-fiction genres and subject matters.

The writing and language multiple choice questions focus on areas such as the construction and organization of sentences, paragraphs, and entire passages; the  use of evidence, building and presentation of ideas, and development of an argument; word choices in context; grammar and usage (such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun-noun agreement, parallel construction, and verb tenses); and punctuation.

To learn more about the writing and language test section and sample some questions, check out https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/inside-the-test/writing-language.

To Register or Read More About the New SAT…

To register to take the SAT, or for more general information on the SAT and its recent changes, go to https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat.

All About Writing offers SAT tutoring for the essay and evidence-based reading/writing portions of the newly redesigned exam, in addition to academic writing and college admission essay assistance throughout all phases of the processes. We provide students with plenty of useful reading and writing strategies and guided practice that build test-day confidence.

Here is a link to our “Academic Papers and College Admission Application Essays” website page for more information on these specific services: https://allaboutwritingconsulting.com/academic-papers-and-college-admission-application-essays/.

Learn more about All About Writing, Howell, NJ and owner Christa Riddle by clicking here. Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away!

Call us today to eliminate the unnecessary stress surrounding the SATs and college application essays. Put our expertise to work for you!

-by Christa Riddle

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