We know the NEW SAT is changing, but what does that mean—in layman's terms? I sat down with Testive Coach, Sophie Heller, to get an overview of the NEW SAT content to clarify the changes for parents and students.
According to the College Board, the NEW SAT will include eight key changes.
- Relevant Words in Context
- Command of Evidence
- Essay Analyzing a Source
- Focus on Math that Matters Most
- Problems Grounded in Real-World Context
- Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
- Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
- No Penalty for Wrong Answers
Relevant Words in Context and Command of Evidence
The Reading and Writing section will be much more akin to what students do in their English class than what they see on the current SAT. They’ll be asked to analyze passages and look for words in context in lieu of the notoriously difficult vocabulary questions that start each Reading section of the current test.
The bulk of this section will be concentrated on finding evidence in the text that supports the author's viewpoint. For example, students will be asked to interpret graphs, passages from nonfiction literature, and texts from history, science, humanities, and social studies.
Essay Analyzing a Source
The essay will also ask students to read a piece of text and use critical reasoning and command of evidence to explain how the author builds their argument and write a clear and concise analysis of what the author is trying to convey. This exercise is similar to what college students are asked to do when assigned a writing assignment.
Although the essay is optional, there's no harm in writing it. Students are already at their desk, ready to take a multi-hour test, so it doesn't change much to sit a little longer to complete the essay, especially since certain colleges will require it. Chances are, if the ACT plus essay are required at colleges, then the NEW SAT plus essay will also be required.
And, if you’re looking for a good way to show off your writing skills, then the essay is a great place to do that.
Focus on the Math that Matters Most
The Math section of the new SAT will be more in tune with what students learn in school and less reliant on tricks and SAT-specific strategy. More specifically, students will be tested on three concept areas: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math.
The first section will have students work with ratios, proportions and percents, to solve real-world problems, while the second two sections will deal with linear equations and inequalities. There will also be a few geometry and trigonometry questions interspersed throughout this section.
Problems Grounded in Real-World Context
As mentioned above, the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section will include literature and literary nonfiction, charts, graphs, and passages they might find in the sciences or other majors. Students will be asked to not only edit these texts, but also offer suggestions to improve them.
The Math section also features problems students are apt to see in the real-world. The goal is to get them to think critically and solve problems they will encounter either at college or in their chosen career.
Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
Whether a student is going to major in science, history, the social sciences or any other major for that matter, they are going to need to be able to think critically and interpret what’s happening in politics, the science community, environmental issues and so on.
Throughout the Redesigned SAT, these topics will be at the forefront in the form of texts, charts, graphs, and math problems. The key is how well each student is able to analyze this information and use it to answer the questions presented on the test. But beyond that, being able to interpret this data is likely something they will encounter regularly throughout their lifetime.
Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Federalist Papers are critical documents in American history and ones that we should all be familiar with. However, outside of history class, most American’s comprehension of these documents is limited at best.
The College Board thought it would be advantageous to bring these documents to the forefront of the NEW SAT to not only base questions around them, but to hopefully spark a conversation among students outside of the SAT test center.
No Penalty for Wrong Answers
The SAT will once again be scored out of 1600, composed of the Math section and Reading & Writing section, both scored from 200-800. Most importantly, incorrect answers will no longer receive point deductions, so there's no harm in guessing on certain questions, similar to the ACT. This new scoring system takes away some of the stress that came with the old SAT. With the new test, chance works in your favor.
What’s the best way to prep for the NEW SAT?
The best thing you can do as a student taking the NEW SAT is to keep informed. The College Board has kept a lot of information close to the belt, but you should stay tuned whenever they release an update. Testive will also be sure to keep you posted to the latest 2016 SAT news.