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sat exam

The Redesigned SAT

Published On: 19 Sep 2014 | Last Updated On: 22 Sep 2014

The world’s most well-known undergraduate college admission test, the SAT, is changing. When students open their SAT test books in spring 2016, they’ll encounter a Redesigned SAT.

The redesigned SAT aims to be more relevant in changing times. While continuing to be valid and predictive, it will become more focused, useful, clear, and open than ever before. Each change in the redesigned SAT focuses on the knowledge and skills that are most essential for college readiness and success.

Key Changes in the SAT

The SAT has been redesigned to focus on fewer things, that evidence shows matter most for college and career readiness. The key features of the redesigned SAT are:

1. It will use a score scale of 1600 instead of the current 2400; the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections will each be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale. Scores for the Essay section will be reported separately.

2. The Essay will be optional, and not mandatory.

3. No points will be deducted for incorrect answers.

4. The duration of the exam will be three hours, with an additional estimated 50 minutes for the Essay. Precise timing will be finalized based on research findings.

5. Calculators will be permitted only on certain portions of the Math section, and not throughout.

6. The Math section will draw from fewer topics.

7. Vocabulary will focus on words widely used in college and beyond, and not on obscure words.

8. The Reading and Writing Sections will be evidence-based. For instance, they will include questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.

9. In the Reading and Writing Sections, students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two.

10. Students will encounter source texts from science, history, and social studies, analyzing them the way they would in those classes at school.

11. The exam will include a passage drawn from American Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation, which refer to texts written internationally on issues related to human rights, freedom, etc. This will ensure the exam takes a global perspective and is accessible to international students.

How can students prepare themselves better for the revised SAT?

College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to provide the world with free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. College Board and Khan Academy will build this material together for launch in spring 2015. This means that for the first time ever, students who want to take the SAT will be able to prepare for the exam, practice, and diagnose gaps in their learning, for free.

In the meantime, students who will take the current SAT can now go to Khan Academy to work through hundreds of previously unreleased practice problems from actual SAT exams, accompanied by more than 200 videos that show how to solve the problems step-by-step.

Other Important Things to Note With Respect to the Redesigned SAT:

How will colleges use the scores of the redesigned SAT and compare scores on the redesigned SAT to scores on the current SAT?

By better reflecting rigorous, useful course work, the SAT of 2016 will, more than ever, help colleges form a complete picture of each applicant. This will include a new, more robust score report that will provide greater insight into students’ strengths. The College Board will provide colleges with a concordance that shows how the two sets of scores compare.

Can students take both the current SAT and the redesigned SAT and see which score is higher?

When the College Board switches over to the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the current SAT will no longer be offered. However, some students will take the SAT before that time and then take the redesigned SAT later. Because the exam and score scale are changing, we recommend that these students send all scores, allowing colleges to use those that are most favorable to the student. Some colleges require students to send all scores.

Is the PSAT/NMSQT changing too?

Yes, the PSAT/NMSQT will change together with the SAT and is planned to launch in October 2015. This schedule will allow students to take the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT before the redesigned SAT. Sample questions to help students prepare will be available on collegeboard.org in December 2014/January 2015. A full practice test will be available in March 2015.

For more information on the SAT Redesign, students should log on to:


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