By Nathalie Kunin
Nathalie KuninFor more than two years there has been lots of chatter about the “new SAT”. Well, it is finally making its debut in March 2016 and the following is a breakdown of what you need to know about the new test. High school Seniors will still take the current SAT so the changes will not apply to them. Sophomores and Juniors will start preparing for the re-designed test. The most significant changes are as follows:

Scoring will go back to the 1600-point scale (instead of the 2400-point scale) and there will not be a penalty for guessing. That means correct answers will receive a point and there will not be deductions for incorrect answers. Also, there will only be 4 answer choices instead of 5.

Sentence completions have been eliminated. Vocabulary questions will only be in the context of paragraphs, and words will be focused more on “real-world” language. No more memorizing obscure lists of words that you have never heard of.

The math section has been re-designed to assess a student’s fundamental grasp of core math concepts. Twenty-eight (28) out of fifty-eight (58) total math questions will not allow the use of a calculator.

The sections are longer, but the pace is slower. An example of this is: Instead of three 25-minute reading sections, there will be one 65-minute reading section and fewer questions per minute.

While still required by many colleges, the essay will be optional. The essay will be based on an analysis of documents, rather than an open-ended question. The essay score will be separate, not factored into the 1600 point total.

The current SAT is offered through January 2016. Indicators that your high school student may prefer the current SAT:

  • • High PSAT score (1800+ on Sophomore PSAT)
  • • Strong Vocabulary
  • • Trouble with Mental Math
  • • Prefers shorter sections

Indicators that your child might prefer the new SAT:

  • • High grades in Geometry and Algebra II
  • • High ISEE or State test math scores
  • • Taking AP English Language   Composition Junior Year
  • • Prefers slower pace

The main thing for students to remember is that everyone taking the newly designed test is in the same boat – it is new for everyone. To be successful on any exam, new or old, students must study and practice. Preparing for any standardized test is a challenge and should take place over several months. Familiarizing yourself with the material will get you one step closer to success.

Nathalie Kunin is the owner of Team Tutors.