by Moshan G '17

The Current vs. Redesigned SAT

During the spring of 2016, a new version of the SAT—the Standardized Admissions Test—will be distributed among high school juniors. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the role of the SAT, this exam claims to assess your college-readiness and is usually taken by 11th and 12th grade students in high school. SAT scores are a crucial part in the college admission process, however more and more schools are becoming SAT optional. Unlike the current SAT, this redesigned SAT contains more questions that are relevant to what you are learning in school and greatly focuses on the skills you need for college and career readiness.


By creating a new SAT, the College Board wants to fix a major flaw in the current SAT: its majority irrelevance to the high school curriculum. Many of the components involved in this current exam are not taught in high schools, which may prove to be disadvantageous for students because they will have to prep for themselves in order to prepare for the exam. For example, the current SAT reading section contains many obscure words that are rarely used or taught at school. In preparing for the SAT, many students pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to enter prep classes and purchase study books. The new SAT, on the other hand, contains questions that are majorly taught to solve in school. Students will no longer need to spend money or time worrying about how they are going to ace their SATs.

For many students who are going to take the SAT after 2015, this new exam may appear as bliss. “I’m very happy for this sudden change because it’s going to benefit both myself and the future generations, since the exam is going to be easier,” says Alexandra Ramos ’17.

Others, such as Nicholas Jung ’17, feel indifferent about this new test. “It doesn’t matter to me whichever I take, really,” says Jung, “the percentiles will always be the same. There will always be high scorers and low scorers. It’s not like you’ll do better on the new SAT, since whether or not your score is a ‘good score’ depends on your percentile between the others who have taken it.”

Other students are disheartened by this sudden change, for their efforts to prepare for the current SAT will be wasted by the time they take the new SATs.

BSGE Seniors, who will not be taking the redesigned SAT, seemed to respond to the exam change with mixed feelings as well. Joleyne Herrera ’15 commented, “Although the new SAT is catered more towards material students learn in school, I still prefer the older version. Trig and a more restricted use of calculators do not sound fun.” She added, “I actually feel a little sorry for the younger kids now.”

On the other hand, Sarfi Chowdhury ’15 favors the new model. He explained, “Making the essay optional and eliminating the Writing section are changes that will help a lot of students. Now test-takers can focus on just Critical Reading and Mathematics, which is easier.” Chowdhury continued, “I wish I could have taken the new version!”

The table below contains a comparison between the major components of the current and redesigned SAT.


Catagory Current SAT Redesigned SAT
Total Points 2400 1600
Time 3 hrs 45 min 3 hrs (not including essay)
Essay Mandatory, 25 minutes

Purpose: to develop a point of view on an issue presented in an excerpt

Optional, 50 minutes

Purpose: Students will be provided a substantial passage (600–700 words) and will then be asked to analyze how the author built their argument; students will need to understand the techniques authors used to write persuasively

Components – Critical Reading

– Mathematics

– Writing

– Essay

– Evidence-based reading and writing

  • Reading Test
  • Writing and Language test

– Mathematics

– Essay (optional)

Scoring – 1 point for every right answer

– ¼ point deduction for every wrong answer

– Blank responses have no impact on scores

– 1 point for every right answer

– No points are deducted for wrong answers

– Blank responses have no impact on scores

Vocabulary Words are often obscure and are not widely used in college and career Words widely used in college and career
Math Involves:

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II (only a few questions)
Focuses on:

  • Application-based, multi-step questions
  • Higher level math, including trigonometry
  • One “extended-thinking” grid-in question (worth 4 points)
  • Core math competencies (translating math into English and English into math)
  • Building equations
Calculator Calculator is permitted to be used for all math sections Only permitted in two longer math sections
Exam form On paper, only Paper and digital
Number of Answer Choices 5 answer choices per question 4 answer choices per question
Number of Sections 10 (including one experimental section) Fewer sections, more time to work on each section

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