The New SAT Format Coming Spring 2016

Willa Smith, Co-Editor in Chief

SAT_achievemoreJust as the thick of the SAT season was starting this year, the College Board announced changes to the SAT test, the scoring, and how the College Board would prepare students. These changes will begin in the Spring of 2016 – so this will be the test that current ARS Freshman will be taking.

These changes were brought on because the test is “too stressful for students, too filled with mystery and “tricks” to raise scores and aren’t necessarily creating more college-ready students,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman at an event in Austin on March 5th, 2014.

The changes to the SAT are shown in this table made by ScoreAtTheTop.

Current SAT…

“New” SAT Test (Spring 2016)…


Scoring is on the basis of 2400 points

The maximum score will revert to the pre-2005 top score of 1600


Incorrect answers penalize a student ¼ point

There will be NO penalty for an incorrect answer

Total time

A student has a total of 3 hours 45 minutes, including the 25-minute essay

The test will last 3 hours. The optional essay will tack on an additional 50 minutes of testing. Total time possible: 3 hours 50 minutes


The general essay topic allows wide variability in writing

A student will write an essay that analyzes a source document


There are 19 vocabulary questions with arcane vocabulary

The 19 sentence completions are expect to disappear;  vocabulary in the context of reading and writing passages will be more relevant to high school and college-level study


The College Board sells a low-cost online subscription service for SAT preparation

College Board will partner with Khan Academy to provide free, online tutorials for the new test

Reading & Writing

Reading and Writing (grammar, syntax, usage) sections are distinct sections which are separately scored

The two will be combined into “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing,” with a corresponding change in the type of questions – ones that rely heavily on analytical skills


Math is divided primarily among questions from algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2

The math examination will contain three focus areas:

  1. Problem Solving and Data Analysis (including ratios and percentages and other reasoning used to solve real-world problems)

  2. Heart of Algebra (linear equations)

  3. Passport to Advanced Math (more complex equations as encountered in science and social science)

The main goal of the new SAT is to measure a student’s preparedness for college, rather than their ability to test.

“I’d like to be optimistic and believe some of this is going to be good,” said Steve Syverson, a member of the NACAC board and dean of admissions emeritus for Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, which is currently a test-optional school. “I just don’t know how it will work out.”

Let us know in comments what your thoughts are on the new test and how you think it’ll work out!