Parents of High Schoolers: What you Need to Know About the New SAT

For those new to the college-admissions process, the SAT and ACT are the two standardized tests used by most colleges and universities throughout the country (some are test-optional). In March 2016, students will be taking a newly redesigned SAT.

Here are the top 10 updates for the new SAT:

  1. The new SAT reportedly aligns better with the curriculum that students are exposed to in public schools.
  2. More reading will be required of students across all sections of the test.
  3. Reading selections will be more fact-based, and students will be required to justify some answers.
  4. Grammar questions will be presented in a content paragraph format instead of single-sentence questions.
  5. The vocabulary test will focus on words that are less esoteric and more commonly used in the “real world.”
  6. The essay will be optional, which is a choice now similar to the ACT essay. Although many colleges and universities will require the SAT essay, it will be scored separately from the rest of the test.
  7. Math sections will test fewer topics, but will reach a higher level and require a deeper understanding of the content.
  8. Calculators will NOT be allowed on one math section (this may be a problem for many students who rely heavily on the calculator).
  9. The test is now scored out of 1600 points (800 Math/800 Reading).
  10. Points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers, and only four answer choices will be offered instead of five, with no experimental section.

Here’s some advice for current high school juniors to consider when deciding which test to take, when to take it and the need for future tests:

  • Take a practice test to determine which one is best suited to you. Many students end up taking both the SAT and ACT.
  • Consider taking either or both tests at least once during junior year. Then make time during the summer to focus on one test and take it again in the fall.
  • Find out the super-scoring policy of the schools to which you will apply. Schools will NOT superscore between the old and the new SAT. (Fewer schools superscore the ACT than the SAT.)
  • If you need to take SAT Subject Test(s) (based on specific college application requirements) schedule these carefully because they are often offered on the same dates as the SAT.
  • For the SAT, order the Q&A service whenever available to track and review the mistakes you made. With this service, College Board will send your test, your answers and the correct answers about a month later.

Loudoun Test Prep is a local, full-service tutoring and college test-prep company located in Ashburn, VA. Owned and operated by educators Vinay Bhawnani and Shawn Sell, LTP specializes in customized and individualized instruction available in both classes and one-on-one opportunities. For SAT/ACT preparation, academic help, AP/SOL/AOS test support and/or any questions about the new SAT, visit or call (703) 638-0684.


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