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Five Takeaways from the New SAT

The new SAT will be released in March 2016. Here are some important changes. 

  1. Real-world vocabulary.

The new SAT is focused on context. Even if you are unsure of a definition, you can make an educated guess based on the surrounding words. No longer will you have to remember the definition of obscure words like conflagration.* The new SAT is testing real-world words – vocabulary that you will likely find in college and beyond.

Example:

writing

  1. More multi-step math word problems.

While the old SAT tested students’ math skills with one-step, tricky questions, the new SAT features longer word problems that require multiple steps to solve. You will need to know how to solve linear equations, how to analyze graphs and percentages, and how to manipulate quadratic and exponential functions; and, you will have to decode the correct operation within the text.

Example:
math

  1. Science and social studies questions are blended throughout all of your sections.

The new SAT weaves science and social studies content throughout the math, reading, and writing sections. You don’t need to memorize historical dates or chemical formulas to answer these questions, but you do need to apply your critical thinking skills to analyze data and graphs, and synthesize information from multiple sources.

Example:

Science

  1. The essay is optional, but a good exercise in college writing.

The optional essay will be at the end of the test. It’s up to students to determine whether or not they need it for college admission. Find out if your dream college requires an SAT essay score. In addition to an extra 25 minutes of writing, the new SAT requires students to analyze an author’s argument rather than argue for or against him/her. Since college papers often require you to examine how an author builds his/her argument, this could be useful practice.

Example:
essay

  1. No penalties for wrong answers. 

    Before, students were docked ¼ of a point for each wrong answer. Now, there are no penalties, meaning you can only have points added to your score, not taken away. Don’t sweat it if you can’t figure out a question. Keep calm and fill in those bubbles.

Questions are referenced from the College Board’s official SAT Practice Test #1.

*For those who are curious, conflagration means a great fire.