The following list was featured in the Journal News on January 11th and provides an overview of the changes that will appear on the March 5th SAT.
Ten things you need to know about the new SAT:
1.There is no penalty for guessing on the new SAT. Wrong answers used to be counted against the student. Not so anymore.
2.The new scale is back to 1600 (as we oldies remember). It is now reading and grammar = 800 and math = 800.
3.The new SAT’s math section has two parts: calculator and no calculator. On the old test, you could use a calculator on the entire test. Now, section 3, the first half of the math, does not allow a calculator and section 4, the second half of the math, allows a calculator.
4.The grammar section on the new SAT looks exactly like the grammar section on the ACT. Both tests ask students to focus on rhetoric and grammar, fixing grammar mistakes, moving paragraphs around, and changing words. There is a heavy emphasis on punctuation in both exams.
5.The new SAT gets rid of brain teasers in the math sections and, like the ACT, has more school based math: geometry, trigonometry and algebra. There are also many more word problems and they are based on real-world questions. For example, a question might introduce currency exchange rates and ask the student to make a currency conversion. You don’t see problems like this on the ACT.
6.Instead of having readings of varying lengths like the old SAT, the new SAT has five 800-900 word passages, with about 10 questions for each. The five readings revolve around set topics: prose, social science, science, humanities, and a reading from a founding document or from the great global conversation.
7.The reading section also has “partner questions,” in which the first question seeks an answer and a follow-up question asks the student to identify a specific line in the text to support the previous answer.
8.The ACT has a science section that focuses on charts and graphs (not science). The new SAT has charts and graphs sprinkled throughout the test, even in the grammar section. This is the SAT’s way of mimicking the ACT.
9.The new SAT, like the ACT, makes the essay optional. The old SAT’s writing section included a 25 minute essay worth 30 percent of that section. On the new test the essay is optional as it is on the ACT. Students can just sit for the four sections of the exam, or they can stay an extra 50 minutes and write an essay. The essay asks students to read an 800 word passage and analyze the author’s argument.
10.The 19 sentence completions have been eliminated, but the critical readings on the new SAT contain many more difficult vocabulary words than the readings on the old exam.