The College Board officially announced the changes coming to the SAT, beginning with the spring administration in 2016. The PSAT will reflect the changes in the October 2015 administration.
Due to the implementation of the Common Core Standards, complaints from certain colleges that the SAT did not sufficiently encourage high schools to implement more critical analysis in teaching writing, and the growing popularity of the ACT, the College Board decided to make some substantial revisions to the SAT — the first since 2005.
The SAT will return to a 1600 scale; writing will be incorporated into the critical reading section and the essay will become optional — a 50 minute text-based, evidence-based analysis.
With regard to the verbal section, the sentence completions will see particularly challenging vocabulary disappear so that the test may better emphasize critical thinking and reasoning over the perception of memorizing arcane words. Also, readings will become document based and evidence based, and will always include a passage dealing with a “founding” document — the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence — and/or a seminal work of national significance, like the “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The math section will see a focus on three categories — Problem Solving and Data Analysis; the Heart of Algebra; and Passport to Advanced Math. It seems that the SAT wants to move away from the broad scope of math knowledge and their abstract reasoning format to focus more on “real world” applications of math learned in high school.
The penalty for guessing will be removed, and the test will shrink in length to 3 hours.
The test will incorporate science knowledge in both the reading and math sections of the test.
We have only these broad outlines of the changes at the moment. In April, the College Board will release more specific examples of questions and content.
At the moment, it appears that the new SAT will look like a combination of the existing SAT, the AP exams, the ACT and the Common Core tests administered now or in the next year in most high schools.
We will continue to bring you updates of the new SAT and what it will mean in terms of preparation.