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How the SAT Will Change in 2016


For the second time in just over a decade, College Board’s SAT is undergoing a massive revamp. The first revision involved a new writing section that focused on grammar and included a required essay, adding up to a perfect score of 2400. Now, the writing part is gone, the essay is optional, and the magic number is back down to 1600.

No matter what College Board officials claim, the reason for the change comes down to dollars and cents. In 2012, the ACT overtook the SAT as the most taken college entrance exam, forcing the latter to adapt.

College Board claims that the new test will be more reflective of studies in the classroom. Validation of that assertion, of course, will have to come from students. 

Here’s the juiciest stuff we know about the changes.

• RIP, vocab. No more hours of studying esoteric words students will never use. Now, they’ll have to understand more “relevant” words in the context of passages.

• A heavy read. The new iteration of the critical reading section is the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. The bottom line: The reading will be more intense and include informational graphics.

• Essay optional. Persuasive as opposed to expository, the new optional essay represents a thinly veiled attempt to be more like the ACT.

• Math matters. College Board calls this section “Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math.” Noticeably absent from the list is geometry. Expect more problems with percentages, graphs and equations.

• Real-world problems. Questions in both reading and math will be presented with graphs and rooted in realistic scenarios and contexts in a variety of academic disciplines. In some cases, a student will be presented with a situation and have to answer several questions about it.

• Analyze this. There will be a greater focus on integrating analysis into the test—though without actually testing science or history knowledge. (Sound familiar?)

• History lesson. Students may have to read and interpret excerpts from the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights. Archaic English or useless vocabulary words—pick your poison. 

• It doesn’t hurt to be wrong. No more conversations about “when to guess”—also a signature ACT feature.

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