New SAT in 2016

The SAT that students will take in the spring 2016 will be different. Kids and their parents (even teachers) are concerned. Will it be harder? Will it be a lot different than the SAT we now know? What can students expect? Although we don’t know everything about the new test yet, Dr. Linda explains the major differences.

Dear Dr. Linda,

My daughter is scheduled to take the SAT in the spring of 2016. We’ve heard that it’s different from the current SAT and harder. Should she take the ACT instead? Should she take both? Can you tell us why these changes were made to the SAT and what they are? Please help my daughter make the right decision about which tests to take. Lorraine G.

Details about the new revised SAT for 2016Dear Lorraine,

Yes, The College Board has made major revisions to the new SAT. We won’t know all the details until the first group of students takes the new PSAT in the fall.

We do know, however, that the revisions were made in order to align the test questions to the Common Core Standards. Some education experts who have seen previews of parts of the test have commented that the test is more difficult than the previous version.

Obviously we can assume that teens in schools which haven’t fully integrated the Common Core Guidelines, especially in math, may have trouble with the new SAT.

The sample questions we’ve seen are considerably longer than the average questions from the previous test. Students with reading challenges may find some math questions difficult simply because of the amount of reading. However, more time is given to complete each section. And students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers.

Some sample questions indicate knowledge often not included in high school curricula: for example, statistics questions in math and questions about The Federalist Papers in history and social studies

The new SAT includes the following seven changes (summarized from The College Board’s website.

(You can find the complete text and sample questions at the College Board’s website.)

  1. Relevant Words in Context
    The redesigned SAT will focus on relevant words, the meanings of which depend on the context in which they’re used.
  1. Command of Evidence
    Students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources.
  1. Essay Analyzing a Source
    Students will read a passage and explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
  1. Focus on Math that Matters Most
    The exam will focus in depth on three essential areas of math: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math. Problem Solving and Data Analysis focuses on quantitative literacy. The Heart of Algebra focuses on the mastery of linear equations and systems. Passport to Advanced Math focuses on more complex equations and the manipulation they require.
  1. Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts
    Students will engage with questions grounded in the real world, questions directly related to the work performed in college and career.
  1. Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
    Students will be asked to apply their reading, writing, language, and math skills to answer questions in science, history, and social studies contexts.
  1. Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
    Students will answer questions about U.S. founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers and about documents from authors, speakers, and thinkers from the United States and around the world

We don’t know how college admissions will respond to the test. Will they take into account whether a student has attended a high school that has not fully implemented the Common Core Standards? Time will tell.

So I suggest to be on the safe side that your daughter take both SAT and the ACT unless she absolutely doesn’t want to take two tests. I know it’s a lot.

I also recommend that students taking the SAT enroll in test preparation classes or get tutoring. Some experts advise students to take AP statistics to improve their math score.

Receiving help is especially important if your daughter is concerned that her school hasn’t prepared her by teaching the Common Core Standards. If you aren’t sure, ask her teachers or the principal if the school has fully integrated the standards.

Test Prep for SAT and ACTStrong Learning will be offering test prep classes and individual tutoring for the new test as we get closer to the date. Check often for the updated schedule or call 845-628-7910.

Dr. Linda

P.S. Students who have a difficult time studying will get valuable study skills tips in my complimentary How to Study eBook. Pick up a copy at

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