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Preparing for the Redesigned SAT

By Huntington Learning Center

Preparing for the Redesigned SAT

In March of 2014, College Board officials announced plans to significantly alter the format and content of the SAT, one of the most widely taken college entrance exams in the nation. The reason? According to College Board, the Redesigned SAT will focus less on tricks and strategies and more on the work students see in high school. The changes will be a better assessment of the academic skills needed for college readiness.  

The Redesigned SAT will be administered for the first time in March 2016, so for students planning to take the SAT in 2016 or later, knowing about the changes to the test can help them to be better prepared.

A Few Key Changes to the Redesigned SAT

Time and Layout

The current SAT takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete, but the Redesigned SAT will be 3 hours in length. One reason for this time difference is that the Essay will no longer be required on the Redesigned SAT. Students who choose to take the optional essay will receive an additional 50 minutes, resulting in the overall test length of 3 hours and 50 minutes. Before deciding whether or not to complete the essay, it is in a student’s best interest to research admissions requirements for their college choices, since college requirements will vary.

The Redesigned SAT will have fewer sections than the current SAT. The current SAT has 10 sections (3 Critical Reading, 3 Math, 3 Writing, and 1 experimental). The Redesigned SAT will have only 4 sections (Reading, Writing and Language, Math (calculator allowed), and Math (no calculator allowed). Even though there will be fewer sections, this does not mean the test will be easier. This new format will challenge students to manage their time carefully to ensure they complete numerous questions within lengthy sections in the allotted time.

Scoring -Changing the rules

The rules of scoring are changing significantly on the Redesigned SAT, and these changes can strongly influence a student’s test-taking strategy. On the current SAT, students gain points for correct answers, but there is a penalty for incorrect answers (1/4 point lost for each wrong answer). Students neither gain nor lose points if an answer is left blank. The Redesigned SAT will offer a more straight-forward scoring approach, allowing students to gain points for correct answers, but not penalizing students for incorrect responses.  So how does this influence a student’s test-taking strategy? On the current SAT, students avoid lowering their score by omitting answers if they are less than certain their answer is right. With no fear of penalty on the Redesigned SAT, students should answer every question.

Scoring-Setting goals

The more questions that a student gets correct, the higher their score will be. 1600 is the new 2400, and by that we mean that the highest possible score on the Redesigned SAT will be a 1600 instead of the highest possible score on the current SAT which is a 2400. These changes are occurring as a result of the change in test format and sections. Students need to understand scoring potential on the test in order to set goals for themselves when testing.

Content and Area of Focus

The College Board created the Redesigned SAT to develop a more accurate assessment of the academic skills needed in our fast-paced, highly challenging educational system. The Redesigned SAT will more closely resemble the work encountered in the classroom. The Reading section will test the ability to develop a strong understanding of passages.  The Writing and Language section will challenge students to identify correct grammar and usage while determining if passages are developed properly. Math skills will be tested with a calculator and without a calculator, assessing skills in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and problem solving and data analysis questions.

Another change coming will be the addition of questions related to history/social studies and science. Students will find these types of questions in each section of the Redesigned SAT. A student’s performance on these types of questions can help high schools and colleges determine which courses the student is best suited for.

Preparation is Key

Understanding how the test is changing is a good place to start. To learn more about the Redesigned SAT, click here. The next step is to work with an SAT expert who can offer guidance and test-taking strategies specific to your needs. By working with an SAT expert, students can ensure they are fully prepared on test day.

At Huntington, whether you are preparing for the current SAT or the Redesigned SAT, we can help. To learn more about our prep programs, click here, or call us at 1 800 CAN LEARN to speak with an educational consultant.


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