SAT Redesigned: What You Need to Know About the New SAT

Sept 15 Tuesday2The SAT is the nation’s most widely used college admission test. Used in combination with high school GPA, SAT scores are the best predictors of a student’s potential to succeed in college. Students can take the new SAT starting March 2016. It will replace the current SAT and be offered throughout the school year. Most students in the class of 2017 will take the new SAT as well as students in the class of 2018 and later. Students often take the SAT in the spring of 11th grade and again in the fall of 12th grade.

Why is the SAT redesigned?

The SAT has been redesigned to measure the most important skills, knowledge, and understandings; to be fair to all students; and to model what students are learning in the best high school classrooms. Because the SAT assesses the content that matters most for college and career readiness, SAT scores provide meaningful information about a student’s likelihood of succeeding in college. The redesigned SAT includes an optional essay that allows students to engage in and demonstrate the deep critical reading, analysis, and writing skills they’ve learned in high school.

What is New?

When students open their SAT test books in March 2016, they’ll encounter tests that are more focused and useful than ever before. The new SAT includes a Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, and a Math Test. The SAT has an optional essay component, which some colleges will require. The redesign of the SAT is centered on key content changes.

Key Content Changes

Words in Context. Many questions on the new SAT focus on important, widely used words and phrases found in texts in many different subjects. Some questions ask you to figure out a word’s meaning based on context. The words are ones that you will probably encounter in college or in the workplace. No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down. The redesigned exams will engage students in close reading and honor the best work of the classroom.

Command of Evidence. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the SAT Essay ask you to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources. These sources include informational graphics, such as tables, charts, and graphs, as well as multi-paragraph passages in the areas of literature and literary nonfiction, the humanities, science, history and social studies, and on topics about work and career.

  • For every passage or pair of passages you’ll see during the Reading Test at least one question will ask you to identify which part of the text best supports the answer to the previous question. In other instances, you’ll be asked to find the best answer to a question by pulling together information conveyed in words and graphics.
  • The Writing and Language also focuses on command of evidence. It asks you to do things like analyze a series of sentences or paragraphs and decide if it makes sense. Other questions ask you to interpret graphics and to edit a part of the accompanying passage so that it clearly and accurately communicates the information in the graphics.
  • The SAT Essay also tests command of evidence. After reading a passage, you’ll be asked to determine how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience through the use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive devices. Scorers look for cogent, clear analyses supported by critical reasoning and evidence drawn from the text provided.

Essay Analyzing a Source. The redesigned SAT Essay asks you to read a passage and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience. This task closely mirrors college writing assignments because it is asking you to analyze how the author used evidence, reasoning, and stylistic and persuasive elements. The new Essay is designed to support high school students and teachers as they cultivate close reading, careful analysis, and clear writing. It will promote the practice of reading a wide variety of arguments and analyzing how authors do their work as writers. Not all students will take the SAT with Essay, but some school districts and colleges require it.

Math that Matters Most. The Math Test focuses in-depth on three essential areas of math: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math.

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis is about being quantitatively literate. It includes using ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning to solve problems in science, social science, and career contexts.
  • The Heart of Algebra focuses on the mastery of linear equations and systems, which helps students develop key powers of abstraction.
  • Passport to Advanced Math focuses on more complex equations and the manipulation they require.Current research shows that these areas are used disproportionately in a wide range of majors and careers. The redesigned SAT also includes questions on other topics in math, including the kinds of geometric and trigonometric skills that are most relevant to college and careers.

Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts. Throughout the SAT, you’ll be asked questions grounded in the real world, directly related to work performed in college and career.

  • The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section includes questions on literature and literary nonfiction, but also features charts, graphs, and passages like the ones students are likely to encounter in science, social science, and other majors and careers.
  • Questions on the Writing and Language Test ask you to do more than correct errors; they ask you to edit, revise, and improve texts from the humanities, history, social science, science, and career contexts.
  • The Math section features multi-step applications to solve problems in science, social science, career scenarios, and other real-life situations. The test sets up a scenario and asks several questions that give you the opportunity to dig in and model it mathematically.

Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies. The redesigned SAT asks you to apply your reading, writing, language, and math knowledge and skills to answer questions in science, history, and social studies contexts. In this way, the assessments call on the same sorts of knowledge and skills that you’ll use in college, at work, and throughout your life to make sense of recent discoveries, political developments, global events, and health and environmental issues. Questions will require you to read and understand texts, revise texts to be consistent with data presented in graphics, synthesize information presented through texts and graphics, and solve problems that are grounded in science and social science.

U.S. Founding Documents and the Great Global Conversation. When you take the SAT, you’ll be asked to read a passage from U.S. founding documents or the global conversation they inspired.

  • The U.S. founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers, have been inspired by and have helped to inspire a conversation that continues to this day about the nature of civic life.
  • Authors, speakers, and thinkers from the United States and around the world, including Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Nelson Mandela, and Mohandas Gandhi, have broadened and deepened the conversation around such vital matters as freedom, justice, and human dignity.
  • The new SAT includes texts from this global conversation. The goal is to inspire a close reading of these rich, meaningful, often profound texts, not only as a way to develop valuable college and career readiness skills but also as an opportunity to reflect on and deeply engage with issues and concerns central to informed citizenship.

No Penalty for Guessing. On the new SAT, you simply earn points for the questions you answer correctly. So go ahead and give your best answer to every question — there’s no advantage to leaving them blank.

Are you ready for the New SAT?

At Omega Learning® Center, we understand the new changes made to the SAT. Our highly effective SAT Test Prep program is customized for each student based on their program goals and includes remediation as needed in specific areas of reading, math, test preparation, test-taking strategies, study skills, and enrichment for building critical thinking skills. Our SAT Test Prep program includes an initial evaluation test, completion of practice test sections, and a thorough review of missed questions. Learn more about the our SAT Test Prep program, so  your student can be prepared and succeed with the new SAT.

Find an Omega Learning® Center near you.

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