Starting in the spring of 2016, students will be taking a new, redesigned SAT test. The test will involve several changes that homeschoolers need to understand and factor into their test planning decisions. The ACT is also making changes to its test format.
The SAT has been losing market share to the ACT for some time. The ACT has been considered more related to course content and it includes a science section. The essay has also been optional on the ACT. As students decide if they plan to take the ACT or the SAT they should consider these changes.
The new SAT, starting in spring 2016, will have the following features.
The essay section will be separate and optional. The essay will require students to respond to a passage of writing with an evidence based argument. The current SAT essay has come under a lot of criticism. Colleges tend to find it has very low value and as a result some have decided not to consider the scores at all. The current essay allows students to use their personal experiences and ideas to support their position and there is no way to check if the information they use is accurate. The new essay will require a more narrow, evidence based, response to passage of writing and will emphasize the student’s ability to construct a persuasive argument.
No Guessing Penalty
The current SAT includes a small, 1/4 point penalty for wrong answers. On the new SAT, like the ACT, there is no penalty for guessing.
On the new SAT calculator use will only be permitted on parts of the math section not the whole section. The math section will cover fewer topics and concentrate more on topics considered to be important for college and career readiness including linear equations, complex equations or functions, and ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning.
No more 2400, the SAT will revert back to the 1600 scoring system with an 800 point math section and an 800 point reading section. The optional essay will have a separate score.
Document Based Subject Questions
Students will be expected to analyze primary source readings in topics such as science and social science. Every exam will include a reading question based on a document of U.S. history such as the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Sample SAT Questions
The College Board has released sample questions to give students an idea what to expect on the upcoming SAT. The sample SAT questions are consistent with the College Board’s statements that the test will put less emphasis on vocabulary and focus more on evidence based reasoning questions.
The SAT is changed enough that students should look carefully at the new format. As has been the case before students should get good advice and carefully consider if the ACT or the SAT will best showcase their abilities and acheivement. The College Board has announced an SAT prep partnership with Khan Academy which will make free SAT test prep materials available to all students starting in the spring of 2015.