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What the New SAT Redesign Means for You

When will the new SAT be available?

Spring 2016 is the anticipated release date.

Check CollegeBoard.org for sample questions from the upcoming version of the SAT.

Does it affect me?

If you will graduate before 2016, it will not affect you.

If you’re a High School Freshman now (at the time this post was written in April 2014), you will be in the first class to take the new SAT at the “right” (generally recommended) time—your Junior year.

Since the new version of the SAT will be released in Spring 2016, that does not leave a sufficient amount of time for a student in the “Class of 2016” to wait until right before graduation to take the new SAT. It is recommended to take the “old version” of the SAT or the ACT during Junior year.

Why change?

According to many studies, the current SAT (not the new version for 2016) was not culturally relevant to minorities and low-income students. And as the questions were based on material that wasn’t relevant to most students, the students needed expensive SAT test prep courses. This meant students in wealthy families had a significant competitive edge. Now the Khan Academy and other sources will offer free online test prep assistance.

What is changing?

In short, the test will be easier and more relevant to what you should know by the time you’re ready to graduate from High School. The main changes:

  • You won’t lose points for wrong answers: With the current SAT, if you miss a question, not only do you miss the chance to get a point, that wrong answer counts against you; taking an additional ¼ point away from your score. Now, the test is “rights only” in which you can only gain points.
  • Essay is optional: Since 2005, the essay has been mandatory. This is one of the biggest reasons students prefer the ACT, for which essays are optional.
  • More relevant (easier) vocabulary: As the New York Times reported, archaic words (that most students only ever encounter on flash cards to study for the old SAT or ACT) will be replaced with words that are commonly used for High School, College, and a standard workplace.
  • Math that matters: The test will focus on more data analysis and real-world problem-solving than before. Problem Solving and Data Analysis will be a big part of the math portion, which is far more relevant to the type of mathematical abilities that matter in the workplace and College.