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The New Redesigned SAT Tests

The new, redesigned SAT has changed in many significant ways from the previous test in both forms i.e. content and scoring practices.

Scoring: The entire test is scored out of 1600: 800 points for Math, and 800 for Evidence Based Reading and Writing. In addition to that, there is an optional Essay at the end of the 3-hour test that is scored out of 12.

Format: The entire test is multiple choices, except for the essay, and 8 grid-in Math questions. There are four answer choices to pick from, and no penalty for wrong answers. The new SAT has also graduated to being computer based wherever facilities allow.

The most remarkable change in the new SAT, of course, is in the content. The emphasis now is on skills that truly define college readiness and knowledge in context.

Reading: There are five passages – 1 passage from literature, 2 from the social sciences, and 2 from science. Students will also be required to interpret data visually through graphs, charts and diagrams. There is no random vocabulary testing; instead, words are tested in context of the passages. The difficulty level ranges from class 9-10 complexity to class 12. The emphasis is not just on demonstrating an understanding of the passages, but in furnishing text-based evidence. The entire section is 65 minutes for 52 questions- students will inevitably face a time-crunch unless they learn to strategize.

Writing and Language: This section consists of 44 questions across 4 passages of predetermined subject matter, to be finished in 35 minutes. The passages will be one each on Careers, Science, Humanities and Social Studies. The test types are argumentative, informative, and non-fiction narrative. Unlike the earlier writing section, the new Writing will test the students’ knowledge and skills not in isolation, but in the context of an entire essay. Like the reading section, this one will also contain graphical data representation. The text complexity, as with reading, will range from class 9-10 to class 12 difficulty level. Through the questions in the passages, students will be tested on their knowledge of standard English conventions, Rhetoric, Style, and punctuation.

Math: The new Math focuses more on word problems that are grounded in real world context, but the most notable changes are the introduction of a 25-minute no-calculator section that is followed by a 55-minute calculator section, and the introduction of Trigonometry in the concepts that it tests. Both these changes, however, do not really escalate the level of difficulty. Nonetheless, the new proportion of Math as 50% of the test score does have big implications for students. For those who excel at Math, it’s a reason to rejoice, and those who struggle with Math simply need to work a little harder, as practice truly does result in a higher score.

Essay: Students need to read and evaluate a given text and write an essay analyzing the writer’s effectiveness in expressing and supporting his claim. They are scored out of 4 on three dimensions- Reading, Evaluation, and Writing. The total score is 12.

Apart with these changes, the most revolutionary step taken by the Collegeboard has been its complete democratization of the preparation process. Through its partnership with Khan Academy, all the tools and materials for study are freely available to every student across the world. The progress of each student can be tracked and practice can be individualized. This has been made even easier with the introduction of the Collegeboard Daily Practice app, which is linked to Khan Academy and makes hundreds of practice questions available at the click of a button.

So although the new redesigned SAT has become suspiciously similar to the ACT, it can only be judged as a change for good.

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