Everything you need to know about the new SAT

  • Rohan Ganeriwala
  • Updated: May 28, 2016 11:55 IST
The redesigned SAT will be something students haven’t quite experienced before and given the fact that the test is changing after three decades one can expect quite a few structural alterations. (Representative Photo: Shutterstock)

The redesigned SAT that will come into effect from the spring of 2016 will be something students haven’t quite experienced before and given the fact that the test is changing after three decades one can expect quite a few structural alterations.

Here is a look at what the new test is all about:

What is changing?

The initial impetus would be on decoding the redesigned SAT to the aspirants. This will include the introduction to and familiarisation with the various sections of the test.

At the very outset, what one ought to know is that the traditional Critical Reading and Writing sections have been renamed as Evidence-Based Reading and Writing respectively. Under this are included the Reading test and the Writing and Language Test.

Though the core skills testing Verbal and Math remain unchanged - it is the presentation of the questions, specifically in the Verbal section, that has been thoroughly revamped.

Another prime amendment is the deletion of Sentence Construction questions from the verbal portion altogether. Vocabulary on the new SAT will now be strictly contextual and blind memorisation of word lists has been also done away with.

The major surprise, however, is the Essay part that is no longer mandatory on the new SAT. Instead, the essay would now be an independent question carrying a separate marking system and would have to be attempted after the multiple choice questions. The new essay is 50-minute long.

Elaborating on the new marking system, applicants should note that the compulsory sections of Verbal and Quantitative carry 800 marks each to be completed in three hours - with the Essay being an optional question to be completed in 50 minutes. This additional time will be given only to those attempting the essay.

Another highlight of the new SAT is the fact that there would be no negative marking. Hence, it’s strongly recommended that students attempt each question.

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Coming back to the strategic approaches, the aspirants must give strong emphasis on how to effectively tackle the Reading Test and Writing and Language Test questions. Optimisation of time is of a prime essence in the new SAT.

An interesting addition in this section is the infographics-based questions and the students will be asked to contextually relate the content of the verbal passages with the information presented in the adjoining statistical infographic and vice versa.

There’s absolutely no room for panic here as the students will not be asked to calculate anything.

Is the new SAT going to be better?

The central point to bear in mind when it comes to the new SAT - by students, parents and faculty alike - is the fact that the questions test the analytical abilities of students through and through. And interestingly enough, this is especially true when it comes to the Verbal and Essay questions.

On a concluding note, it would be fair to say that the redesigned SAT is a sharper and more scientific avatar of its old counterpart which would be phased out soon.

Having said that, it is also true that if students prepare judiciously and are confident in the rudimentary academic skills of Verbal and Quant, mastering the new avatar wouldn’t be an unachievable goal.

The SAT score is a filtration mechanism. As much as colleges will like aspirants to believe that the selection process is holistic, what they don’t say is that the elimination process is objective. Unless you make the threshold with regard to your school grades and SAT scores, the holistic aspect of your profile will not even be looked at.

Let’s be honest, with the sheer number of applications increasing exponentially each year, it is impossible to look at the essays, profile, LORs, etc. of every student in complete detail.

Without the basic cut off SAT scores, you won’t even be considered for discussion. SAT subject tests are compulsory for the top colleges.

In a nutshell, take your SAT seriously.

(Ganeriwala is the co-founder of Collegify. The views expressed here are personal.)

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