New SAT 2016 FAQ
What is the SAT?
The SAT is an exam administered by The College Board to test college and career readiness. It is primarily used for the purpose of gaining admission to college. The SAT is widely considered to be the single most important test you take in high school.
Why is the SAT changing in 2016?
According to The College Board, the SAT was revised to better focus on testing the skills and knowledge that matter most for college and career success.
How is the SAT changing in 2016?
Changes to the new 2016 SAT include changes to the format of the exam, scoring scale, and question types.
The new SAT includes a combined Reading and Writing section, formally called the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section, a Math section, and an optional 50-minute Essay. The Reading/Writing and Math sections are scored from 200-800, for a total composite score of 400-1600. The optional essay is given a score of 2-8; this score will not be reported along with your composite score, meaning your essay score does not affect your composite score. If you forgo the essay writing section of the new SAT, the test will only be three hours long.
The new SAT no longer tests vocabulary in the same way; rather than testing students’ memorization of obscure vocabulary words, students are asked to identify the meaning of more commonly used words that change in definition based on the context in which they are used. In addition to being optional, the SAT Essay is no longer persuasive. Instead, the Essay is evidence based. In terms of content, the SAT Math section will change most. These changes are discussed in more detail below.
In sum, the new 2016 SAT will have:
- Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section with a combined score (Possible score: 200-800)
- Math section with non-calculator and calculator sections (Possible score: 200-800)
- An optional essay (Scored separately)
- Composite score of 400-1600 plus the essay score
- Different means of testing vocabulary
- Essay is evidence based rather than persuasive
- Many content changes on Math
What question types appear in the new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section?
The revision in 2016 has led to a removal of traditional SAT sentence completion questions. The redesigned SAT no longer tests rote memorization of obscure vocabulary words; instead, the SAT tests “high utility” words that change in definition depending on the context in which they are used. This means that students will now be required to have a deeper understanding of more commonly used vocabulary words, and will also be required to read entire passages to discern the meanings of words.
Four types of questions will be featured on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section: words in context, command of evidence, informational graphics, and text complexity.
Words in Context questions measure your understanding of how word choice influences meaning, shapes mood and tone, reflects point of view, or lends precision or interest. The Writing and Language portion measures students’ ability to apply knowledge of words, phrases, and language in general in the context of extended prose passages.
Command of Evidence questions test students’ ability to identify the portion of text that serves as the best evidence for the conclusions they reach. You both interpret text and support that interpretation by citing the most relevant textual support. The Writing and Language portion measures students’ capacity to revise a text to improve its development of information and ideas.
Informational Graphics questions ask students to interpret information conveyed in one or more graphics (tables, graphs, charts, etc.) and to integrate that information with information found in the text. The Reading test has two passages that include one or two graphics each. The Writing and Language portion has one or more passages that include one or more graphics, and asks students to consider information in graphics as they make decisions about how and whether to revise a passage.
Text Complexity questions include passages that span a specified range of text complexity levels from grades 9-10 to postsecondary entry. Students are asked to make and refine decisions about the placement of passages within complexity bands.
More generally, the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section will require students to answer questions based on their ability to read and refine the text as a whole.
The most important thing about the new Evidence Based Reading and Writing section is that students will need to read entire passages to answer the questions.
What question types appear in the new Math section?
The revision in 2016 has led to the addition of a no-calculator math section, which is worth a third of your math score. The sections of the math test that do allow a calculator also feature questions that do not require a calculator to solve, where use of a calculator could serve to actually slow down the problem solving process. These question types assess how well students make use of appropriate tools.
Four types of questions appear in the SAT math section: algebra, problem solving and data analysis, advanced math, and additional topics. Each of these broader question types may be broken down into more specific math topics.
Algebra questions require students to solve equations and systems of equations, to create expressions, equations, and inequalities to solve problems, and to rearrange and interpret formulas.
Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions require students to create and analyze relationships using ratios, proportions, percentages, and units, to describe relationships shown graphically, and to summarize qualitative and quantitative data.
Advanced Math questions require students to rewrite expressions, to create, analyze, and solve quadratic and higher-order equations, and to manipulate polynomials to solve problems.
Additional Topics questions require students to calculate area and volume, to investigate lines, angles, triangles, and circles using theorems, and to work with trigonometric functions.
More generally, the math section of the SAT thoroughly tests your foundational knowledge of math topics in the context of real world situations, involving science, social science, or career related topics, focusing specifically on the math needed to pursue careers in the STEM fields.
The new math sections will have:
- A no-calculator section
- Two out of the four total multiple choice sections on the SAT (2016) will be math
- More questions on real-world applications of math
- Problems that focus on algebra, data analysis, advanced math, trigonometry, circles and other topics
Will the new 2016 SAT be harder?
This is a question with no easy answer. It depends on your strengths and weaknesses. The math section of the test is more advanced and counts more heavily toward your overall composite score, and calculators are only available for certain math sections. This will benefit students who are talented in math or who have taken more advanced math classes. Likewise, the evidence based reading and writing section of the test favors students with strong reading comprehension skills and an in-depth knowledge of English grammar. From College Board’s perspective, the SAT (2016) is more closely aligned with the demands of college and readiness for a career. Students who have done well in all school subjects should benefit from the test changes.
When should I sign up for the SAT?
We suggest that you sign up for the SAT when you are comfortable with the test and have completed all assignments related to your course. In other words, don’t plan to take the SAT directly after the course is over, in the event that you need more time to practice. However, we do NOT suggest waiting more than 60 days after the course to take the SAT. The deadline to actually register for an SAT exam is usually four to five weeks before the test date. The SAT is offered seven times a year in the following months: January, March, May, June, October, November, and December. Students should carefully consider factors like the availability of the test date, the length of time it will take to fully prepare for the exam, and the deadlines of the colleges they will apply to when constructing their overall college admission timeline.
Schedule the exam:
- After the course has completed (but not immediately after to allow for extra study time)
- Before 60 days from the end of the course (so information is still fresh)
- Registration deadline is usually 4-5 weeks prior to the test
- Only 7 SAT exams each year: January, March, May, June, October, November, December
- Consider college deadlines, preparation times, and test date availability before scheduling
How do I sign up for the SAT?
There are three ways to sign up for the SAT:
- Online: Register at the College Board website
- By phone: (888) 728-4357. Students may only register for the SAT over the phone if they are retaking the SAT. Only students who have a previous SAT registration can register by phone.
- By mail: Under certain circumstances, some students may be required to register for the SAT by mail. You can learn whether or not these circumstances apply to you at the following web address: https://sat.collegeboard.org/register. To register by mail, you will need The Student Registration Guide for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, which is available through your school counselor.