Beginning this spring, the College Board will be releasing a new version of their traditional Scholastic Assessment Test. The SAT, one of the two major tests used across the nation for college admissions, will be revised in both testing format and question material. The new test will be first available on March 5 (registration deadline expires Feb. 5).
In this process the previous SAT, last offered Jan. 23, will be discontinued. This past test was comprised of 10 different sections that encompassed an essay, math, critical reading and writing questions. While the new version will still cover this same material, it will cover the questions in a slightly different manner. The previous SAT contained 10 sections in total. It began with a 25-minute essay and then followed with six 25-minute sections of alternating math, reading and writing questions (so in total two sections of each subject). These were followed by two 20 minute sections of math and reading. The test was concluded with a 10 minute writing section.
In contrast, the redesigned version will be made up of three sections – Evidence Based Reading and Writing (made up of reading and writing subsections), math, and an optional essay. Instead of breaking up into smaller and shorter bursts, the new test will clump all questions from one subject together. The essay will be 50 minutes long and optional in this version. The reading will be 65 minutes long, math 80 minutes and writing 35 minutes. The reading and writing scores will be combined to determine the EBR&W score.
“This test offered in March is going to be totally different,” Director of Midwest Test Prep Melanie O’Donohue said. “From time, to general content, to even timing, a lot’s going to change.”
Because of this new format, the new test will feature a completely redesigned scoring system. Instead of ranging from 600-2400 like the previous version, the new test will range from 400-1600 with 1600 being a perfect score. To determine this final score, the College Board will combine the EBR&W score with the Math score (each out of 800). In addition, the new format will not penalize students for guessing, in comparison to the old test which deducted ¼ a point for each incorrect answer.
High school juniors and some sophomores have already had an opportunity to experience this test late last year. The College Board piloted the redesign with the 2015 Practice SAT on Oct. 13. Because it is scored on the same scale, scores from the PSAT are expected to roughly predict what students will score on the new version.
Along with this new version also comes apprehension. Juniors will now need to transition to a new format that many are largely unfamiliar with. While the College Board has released a considerable amount of information and allowed students to preview the new test, much will not be known until after the first test is released in March.
Junior Katie Kuhlman is one student who shares these apprehensions. She has taken the old SAT twice and plans to be finished after receiving the score for her Jan. test.
“Well I wanted to be done testing by summer anyway,” Kuhlman said. “The new test is too different from the one that I’m used to and I have decided that I probably won’t even take it. It will be a different test to study for and I won’t’ even be able to use it to superscore.”
By “superscore”, Kuhlman was referring to the policy that many schools have, allowing students to combine the highest subscores from multiple test dates into one composite score. While most schools that currently allow superscoring plan to do the same with the new test, they will not combine scores from the old and new versions of the test.
Despite these changes and apprehensions, the College Board hopes that the new test will be popular among students and universities, announcing that it will be accepted by all U.S. colleges. Students can prepare for the new version by purchasing practice manuals, taking practice tests, or visiting the College Board’s website.