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The "NEW" SAT... What's the deal?

Why did they change the test?

Every ten years or so, the powers that be decide that the SAT needs to change to stay relevant. You have to give them credit though- they have good intentions and the goal is to improve the test. The truth (historically) has been that the more they try to change the test, the more it stays the same. The SAT is a standardized, multiple choice test. It is the very type of test that by definition is always vulnerable to tricks and techniques. So, do NOT worry. We are here for you!

When did the changes take place?

The new SAT was administered for the first time on March 5, 2016 (so it's not so new anymore).

What are the specifics of the "NEW" SAT?

Here is a handy little table showing you the changes...

Changes to the SAT        Old SAT
      (Class of 2006-2016)
        New SAT
       (Class of 2017+)

Scoring System

  • point penalty for wrong answers
  • Score is based on a 2400 point scale:
  • 800 for Math
  • 800 for Critical Reading
  • 800 for Writing/Essay
  • No penalty for wrong answers
  • Score is based on a 1600 point scale:
  • 800 for Math
  • 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Optional essay will receive a separate score

Time Allotted

  • 3 hours 45 minutes
  • 3 hours 50 minutes (including optional essay)

General Content

  • Tests a wide range of non-specific content and information
  • More in-depth focus on analyzing specific presented content and information


  • Focus on broad set of concepts including Algebra, Algebra 2 and Geometry
  • Calculator Allowed for all sections
  • Focus on 3 skill sets:
  • Data Analysis/Interpretation (graphs & charts)
  • "The Heart of Algebra" (Algebra Concepts)
  • "Passport to Advanced Math" (Pre Calc)
  • Calculator not Allowed for all math sections(Ugh)

Reading and Writing

  • Writing score combines writing multiple-choice questions and written essay score
  • Reading section has two question types: Sentence Completions (vocab) and Reading Comprehension questions
  • Reading and Writing combined into "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing"
  • No Sentence Completions (No crazy Vocab!)
  • Focus on real-world vocab-in-context as well as revising and editing writing in passages
  • Emphasis on analyzing Literature, Social Studies, and Science passages


  • Essay required
  • Students have 25 minutes to write an opinion piece in response to a given topic
  • Getting facts correct not such a big deal. True emphasis on Format and Structure of the essay
  • Essay optional (but you should do it anyway)
  • Students have 50 minutes to analyze source documents and explain how the author builds an argument
  • Getting facts correct will be important

Do you need to worry about any of this?

Of course not! We have been tutoring for the SAT for many years. We are on top of the changes and we are prepared to help you. We've seen the SAT experience growing pains before and we have helped students adjust to changes in the test many times over the years.

What should your approach be?

The same as it always has been: Slow and Steady. SAT (and all standardized test) Prep is a process that is best done incrementally. The SAT will always be a test that can be mastered in the long run.

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