SAT Under the Microscope

The test will shift from its previous score scale of 2400 back to 1600, with a separate score for the essay. No longer will test takers be penalized for choosing incorrect answers.

The redesigned test takes about three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the essay, and will be administered by print and computer.

The SAT, a prerequisite for admission to most universities, is a standardized test, owned, published, and developed by the nonprofit College Board Organization in the United States.
SAT stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test and it does just that: it measures the scholastic aptitude so that the colleges you are applying to will form a general idea of where you stand on the educational level. 

How to Crack the SAT? 

Practice! Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice! I can’t emphasize enough the importance of practice. The truth is, the more practice tests you have the more familiar you will be with the questions. The trick lies in comprehending what you read and interpreting the question; the more you practice the more aware you will be of your pitfalls and work on improving them. 
The SAT is offered seven times a year, and you have effectively till December of your senior year to sit for it. However, you are mostly advised to take your SAT towards the end of your junior year (Grade 11 or Second Secondary), because at that point you would’ve acquired all the necessary skills needed for the exam. Moreover, taking the exam during your junior year will give you a chance to get it out of your way, or to retake the test if you did not do well. There is no disadvantage in retaking the SAT. The universities you apply to will take your highest grade into consideration. Another important advantage of the SAT is that the results are valid for five years. So even if you take it in your junior year, the results will be accepted by the universities when the time comes. 
Now that you have got this far, take another look at a SAT sample text; it doesn’t seem so scary or intimidating anymore now, does it?

How the test is changed

Sections of the redesigned SAT sounds similar to the one of 2015 test, but the changes are significant.

The reading and writing sections includes questions that require students to cite evidence for their answer choices, and will include reading passages from a broader range of disciplines, including science, history, social studies and literature.

Test takers have no longer be asked to complete sentences with obscure words they might have memorized from flash cards.

Instead, students will have to consider the context of how words like "synthesis" and "empirical" are used. They're not "SAT words" as they've come to be known, but words students are likely to encounter again.

The math section has no longer allow calculators to be used on every portion. It focuses on data analysis and real world problem-solving, algebra and some more advanced math concepts -- areas that most prepare students for college and career.

The essay, which the SAT added in 2005, it is now optional. SAT essays have faced criticism over the years from educators who said they focused too much on what test takers wrote, not whether their statements were true, or their arguments reasonable.

Essays will be scored separately from the rest of the test, and the prompt will remain basically the same in every test: It will ask students to consider a passage and write an essay that analyzes how the author made an argument, used evidence and styled ideas.

Key Content Changes

Like other assessments in the SAT Suite of Assessments, 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. SAT questions focus on skills that matter most for college readiness and success, according to the latest research.  

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 long after test day.

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 multipara graph 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 Test 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.

The essay prompt will be the same every time the new SAT is offered, but the source material students are asked to write about will be different each time.

Not all students will take the SAT with Essay, but some school districts and colleges require it. The SAT is the only assessment in the SAT Suite that includes the Essay. Learn more about the Essay.

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. Learn more about the Math Test.

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.

By: Stephanie Matta

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