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The SAT Gets a Makeover

Changes to the SAT launch in March 2016

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Starting in March 2016, the College Board will introduce the most sweeping changes to the SAT in 10 years. 

Comparing the current and redesigned SATs is difficult, says Jonathan Chiu, PhD, national content director of high school programs at the Princeton Review. “There are a lot of similarities, but they are kind of incomparable,” he says. 

One of the most impactful changes to the SAT is the removal of the “guessing penalty,” which deducts for incorrect answers.  On the redesigned SAT, scores will be based only on correct answers; “No guessing penalty alone makes it totally different,” says Dr. Chiu.

Other major changes

In addition to eliminating the penalty for wrong answers, changes include:
• There will be two sections (Evidence- Based Reading and Writing; Math), not three, for the first time since 2005.
• The current third section, the essay, will be optional. It’s now a 50-minute section at the end of the test, rather than 25 minutes at the beginning of the test.
• The College Board will report one combined score for the first time. A maximum score for the two sections will be 1,600.
• The College Board will also provide several subscores, ranging from 1 to 15, in slices of the Reading-Writing and Math sections.
• There is a new no-calculator portion of the Math test.

Scores on the SAT have tended to closely correlate to income, says Douglas Zander, EdD, the University of Delaware’s admissions director. To help students prepare for the redesign, the College Board is providing redesigned, free online preparation materials through a partnership with the Khan Academy. “It’s an effort to have a test that’s more inclusive,” says Dr. Zander.

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