The New and Improved SAT

August 6, 2016

The SAT has undergone major changes to its structure and content, but what does that mean to those taking the test? The new SAT focuses more on the knowledge, skills, and understanding that research shows is essential for college and career readiness and success.


The major structural change to the SAT is in how the concepts are tested and the steps students will have to take to answer questions correctly. Students now have more time to take the test, there are no penalties for a wrong answer, less choices to choose from. The content in the new SAT better mirrors what is taught in the classroom, allowing students to better apply classroom knowledge to a large standardized test.


The SAT still prioritizes students understanding complex concepts through multiple-step problems in a quick, linear fashion, but now emphasizes it through context analysis with passages in the reading portion, and graphs and charts in the math portion. The essay prompt will ask students to heavily analyze source material, and build an argument around it. This helps judge how prepared students are to solve problems, communicate clearly, and understand complex relationships – all key skills colleges look for in their potential students.


How to study for the SAT has changed dramatically, but some study practices will never fail. Take full-length SAT practice tests, form study groups, learn how to pace yourself for timed tests (it’s a marathon, not a sprint!), and practice problematic areas with a tutor’s help to succeed. Kahn Academy is an excellent place to start, with College Board approved tips, strategies, and tools for any student.

In Michigan, 11th graders will take the SAT, and the SAT essay, as part of the Michigan Merit Examination in the spring.

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