Tip from Josie: What’s the deal with the new SAT?

Josie Francois2Hi everyone, my name is Josie Francois and I am a rising junior at Harvard College concentrating in Chemistry with a secondary in Economics. I have worked as a tutor at HSA Tutoring for a few years now and I really enjoy it. I want to help students perform to the best of their ability, whether in class or on standardized tests.

Today I will be providing information on the redesigned SAT, which will premiere March 2016. The College Board is redesigning the SAT and the PSAT. The SAT will still have a similar format, but now the essay is optional. But there are many other changes that are occurring within individual sections.

One of the changes that students will be most excited about is the removal of the guessing penalty. The SAT will no longer deduct points for wrong answers, so now you’re free to guess as much as you like. Another welcomed change is the change to how the SAT will test vocabulary in the Reading sections. You will no longer be expected to know obscure words. Now, vocabulary will be tested in context. You will be asked to define words and phrases in the context in which they appear. So now the words and phrases will be more familiar.

The Reading and Writing sections will now be more evidence-based. Students will be asked to use evidence provided in passages, tables, charts, and graphs to answer questions. In the Reading sections, students will now have to answer questions that ask them to locate evidence, from the information provided, that supports the answer to a previous question. There will also be questions that require students to use information in paragraphs and figures to answer the question. On the Writing sections, students will have to analyze sentences or paragraphs to determine if they are logical. Students will have to interpret figures and determine the change to the accompanying passage so that it better describes the information presented in the figure.

The essay will also be more evidence-based. For the essay, students will need to analyze a passage and its argument using evidence from the text. Students will have to explain how the author builds a persuasive argument and analyze the contents of the passage in the 50 minutes allotted. The Math sections will also require students to give questions more thought. The Math sections are changing and will include more complex equations and advanced math. Some problem solving will involve multiple steps that span multiple questions.

Overall, the SAT will use more real world examples and passages, and test knowledge and skills that have real world applications. The redesigned sections will also include more non-fiction passages from various subjects and passages drawn from U.S. founding documents and works from great thinkers around the world. Scoring is also changing. Students will get a total score ranging from 400 to 1600. The score will be composed of two scores on a scale of 200 to 800, one for Evidence Based Reading and Writing and one for Math. The essay will receive 3 scores, on a scale of 2 to 8, for three different aspects.

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