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What is the main difference between the old and new SAT? Is one easier/harder than the other?

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Hi! I'm a sophomore in high school and I was wondering to which SAT (new or old) would best fit me. My question is what is the main difference between the two tests and if you recommend one over the other? Thanks! #sat #act #newsat

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Mukesh’s Answer


The new SAT, starting in March 2016, is a very different exam from the current SAT or any other test. It is modelled in some ways after its competitor, the ACT: It has done away with the error penalty; now, as on the ACT, only correct answers will be counted. So you should guess if you don't know an answer or run out of time. Like the ACT, the new SAT essay will be optional and many colleges (though not many of the most competitive ones) will accept the test without it. The essay now comes at the end of the test, as on the ACT. It is a very different assignment from the current version, and at fifty minutes, twice as long. Though the new SAT does not have a Science section comparable to that of the ACT, science reasoning skills are deeply embedded into every section of the test, from Writing to Reading to Math. There are charts, graphs and tables with data to interpret in every section.

Math now has calculator-allowed and calculator-prohibited sections, and a much greater emphasis on algebra, practical problem solving and some more advanced math topics. Plane geometry is greatly de-emphasized and the classic math puzzlers of the current SAT are gone. Sentence Completions are also history, though there are enough vocabulary-in-context questions in tough reading passages that you needn't recycle your dictionary any time soon.

The new test will be a little bit shorter (three hours) without the optional essay, but with the essay, about the same length as the current test. Scoring will revert to the classic 1600 scale: 200-800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 200-800 for Math. The Essay score will contain three scores ranging from 2-8, one each for Reading, Analysis and Writing, but will not be included in the 1600-based score.

The best way to understand what this test is about is to visit the College Board's website and download one of their four full practice tests at . All tests have companion video explanations on Khan Academy for every question. Information on how to access that material is found on the same page. There is also a collection of practice questions and answer explanations for each section of the test and a practice PSAT in the new format. The PSAT for October 2015 will be in the style of the upcoming redesigned SAT.

) Scale: The SAT will be going from a 2400 scale (800 Points in Math, 800 Points in Reading, 800 Points in Writing) back to the 1600 scale (800 Points in Math, 800 Points in Reading/Writing)

2) Incorrect Answers: The old SAT deducts a quarter-point for every incorrect answer. The new SAT is now following the ACT's lead and will have no penalty for incorrect answers.

3) Essay: While the essay section is required on the old SAT and baked into the writing score (counts for roughly 30% of the total writing score), the essay portion on the new SAT is optional (like the ACT) and is scored separately. The essay for the new SAT will also be longer (50 minutes instead of 25 minutes) and focuses on analysis of a document that will be provided.

4) Vocabulary: The new SAT will no longer have a sentence completion section testing obscure vocabulary words. Instead, the College Board says it will incorporate more relevant vocabulary words in the reading/writing sections.

5) Math: While students are able to use a calculator for all math sections of the old SAT, the new SAT will have a math section (testing graphing concepts, etc..) where students will not be allowed to use a calculator.

WOW! Thank you so much Mr. Kamat! Luka G.