Are you ready for changes in SAT, GRE, GMAT?

  • Gauri Kohli, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2016 16:54 IST
The new SAT will assess a candidate’s ability to process information quickly. (istock)

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are tests required for higher studies abroad. Any of you planning to write the tests need to gear up for a slew of changes and initiatives that have been introduced recently.


The SAT has undergone its biggest change in 30 years. The new test was introduced earlier this month and impacts students joining institutions in the class of 2017 or younger. Michael Gamerl, AVP, Princeton Review, (which helps students prepare for the SAT) says: “Its content is very similar to the American College Testing (ACT). The major difference is in how the concepts are tested and the steps you have to take to solve problems correctly. You have to reason your way through this exam by tackling problems in a linear and sequential fashion. Your ability to process information quickly will be tested. The SAT reading section now does not have questions on sentence completion.”

The current SAT lasts for three hours and 45 minutes. The redesigned test SAT will take three hours (plus 50 minutes for essay, which is optional). The components have been revised from critical reading, writing, mathematics and essay to evidence-based reading and writing section (reading, writing and language test), math section (math test) and essay (optional). There will be continued emphasis on reasoning, alongside a clearer, stronger focus on the knowledge, skills, and understandings most important for college and career readiness and success. There will be greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact.

“Just like in the ACT, there will be no penalty for wrong answers, so you don’t have to worry about losing points for incorrect guesses. There are only four answer choices instead of five. You may be more familiar with some of the vocabulary tested, but you will need to know multiple definitions of those words. Questions require multiple steps to get an answer in the new SAT. The reading passages include complex structure and vocabulary. Foundational math skills and reasoning and critical thinking skills will play a major role in determining your score. There are fewer sections in the new test, but they take a longer time than the old test,” says Gamerl.


Starting this April, Indian students can register for the first-ever TOEFL MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) titled TOEFL Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide. David Payne, vice president and COO of the Global Education Division at ETS, says, “This free six-week course is designed to benefit English language learners looking to improve their skills. The MOOC will launch in June. The interactive TOEFL test prep course covers English-language skills that universities, agencies and institutions are looking for in applicants. It will help students understand what they can do to achieve their best score. Students are offered a unique opportunity to explore the TOEFL test sections with experts who created the TOEFL test. Instructors will guide students through each section (reading, listening, speaking and writing) and walk through the types of questions students can expect.”

The course is highly interactive, using videos, sample questions with explanations, short quizzes, discounted test prep offers and a live social media event. During weeks four and five, the expert instructors will select, score and analyse speaking and writing samples submitted by students. Throughout the duration of the course, students are encouraged to meet and share information with other students from around the world on the discussion boards. The MOOC is free for all participants. ETS has also come up with revised learning material to help people prepare for TOEFL.

How GMAT changed

The biggest change the Graduate Management Admission Council announced last year allowed test takers to cancel a score without having it reported to business schools. This helps students give themselves enough time to prepare thoroughly, rather than attempting the GMAT countless times to reach a comfortable score. To give test takers more flexibility, the GMAC also allowed candidates to schedule another attempt after a 16-day period.

Read more: Test your aptitude: Are you set for SAT on March 14?

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