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The New SAT Test (And Why It Changed)

Student Studying

The New SAT made its debut in March 2016 and impacts the students in the class of 2017 or younger. In 2005, the SAT changed and a score of 2400 or higher became the magic number to get. Before that the magic number was 1600. This year the SAT test is changing again and the magic number is reverting back to 1600. You may be asking yourself what is the new SAT test and why has it changed? Let’s dig a little deeper and learn more about the history of the SAT.

The SAT was founded in 1926 and was an adaptation of the Army Alpha, an IQ test which had been used to check the intelligence of recruits to the US Army. This eventually developed into the SAT as we know it.

In 2005, an update was done to the test where analogies was eliminated from the test. It was determined that they did not really reflect today’s high school curriculum. They als0 felt that the analogies encouraged memorization of vocabulary rather than reasoning skills. The math section was expanded to embrace concepts covered by most high school “Algebra II” courses. Again, the change represents an attempt to keep the SAT in step with the modern high school curriculum.  They also wanted to emphasize the skills that are most desired by top colleges and universities.

The newest changes to the SAT test in 2016 have students pretty excited. Lets look at some of these changes.

1. No Obscure Vocabulary. The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip you up. So you may be more familiar with some of the vocabulary that is tested, but you will need to know multiple definitions of those words. The College Board made the decision to focus on vocabulary words that you will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs.

2. Fewer Answer Choices. The new format will have only 4 choices to each question instead of 5. This will help save you time when taking the test because you will have 1 less answer choice to read through. This will also give you a 25% chance of getting the answer correct instead of only a 20% chance.

3. More Time. One of the biggest complaints that students had with the SAT test is that they didn’t have enough time to take the test. The good news is that there will be more time per section on the new version, and you will even have double the amount of time to write your essay. Another cool thing about it is the new 1600 version of the test will have 16 fewer questions than the old version.

4. No Penalty for Guessing. On the previous version of the SAT, students were penalized for guessing the wrong answer by losing a point on their score. The new system doesn’t penalize you for choosing the wrong answer.

5. Optional Essay. The essay, which the SAT added in 2005, will now be optional. SAT essays have faced criticism over the years from educators who said they focused too much on what test takers wrote, not whether their statements were true, or their arguments reasonable. Essays will be scored separately from the rest of the test, and the prompt will remain basically the same in every test. It will ask you to consider a passage and write an essay that analyzes how the author made an argument, used evidence and styled ideas.

The redesigned test will take about three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the essay, and will be administered by print and computer; the current test is available on paper only. These are so many needed changes to the SAT. The new SAT will have no bearing on students scheduled to graduate in 2016. However, for students planning to graduate in 2017 or any year after, the new SAT exam will be the exam they have to take (assuming they would prefer to take the exam no sooner than spring of 2016).