The SAT is undergoing its biggest change in 30 years. The New SAT will make its debut in March 2016 and impact students in the class of 2017 or younger.  Our awesome research team has been closely monitoring the changes to make sure counselors, parents, and students get the inside scoop.  And we have specific tips for the class of 2017.

The content on the New SAT will be very similar to that which is on the ACT.  The major difference is in how the concepts are tested and the steps students will have to take to solve problems correctly. Students will have to reason their way through this exam by tackling problems in a linear and sequential fashion; a student’s ability to process information quickly will be key.

Changes You'll LoveChanges You Won't Love
  • No penalty for wrong answers, so students won’t have to worry about losing points for guessing incorrectly. (Just like on the ACT.)
  • There will be only 4 answer choices instead of 5. (Just like on the ACT.)
  • Students may be more familiar with some of the vocabulary tested, but they will need to know multiple definitions of those words.
  • Sayonara sentence completions.
  • Questions will require multiple steps to get an answer.
  • The reading passages will include complex structure and vocabulary.
  • Foundational math skills will be more important.
  • Reasoning and critical thinking skills will be paramount.
  • There will be fewer sections on the new test, but they will be longer in time than the current test.

See New SAT Prep Options

Are My Scores Here Yet? 

If you take the New SAT in March 2016, The College Board will hold scores from the test until after the May 2016 administration. That's a long and likely stressful waiting period for students to learn their scores.

How Should I Prep?

The SAT is still a timed pencil and paper test. Speed and accuracy count. Our Research and Development team are New SAT experts. They have created world class content for our new courses and online resources to help students navigate these changes and be prepared on test day.

For more details on the changes coming in March, click Current/New SAT Comparison.

For help figuring out what to do with this information, click What Now? for advice from our test prep and college entrance experts.

ChangesThe Current SATThe New SAT (coming spring 2016)
SECTIONS 3 sections
  • Math
  • Critical Reading
  • Writing Skills
2 sections
  • Math
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
SCORING Composite score (600–2400)
  • 3 section scores (200–800)
Total score (400–1600)
  • 2 section scores (200–800)
  • 3 test scores (10–40)
  • 7 sub-scores (1–15)
  • 2 cross-test scores
LENGTH OF TEST (WITHOUT BREAKS) 3 hours, 45 minutes 3 hours (without essay)
3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
ANSWER CHOICES 5 answer choices per question 4 answer choices per question
INCORRECT ANSWER PENALTY 1/4 point off for each incorrect answer on multiple-choice questions No penalty for incorrect answers
FORMAT OF TEST Paper and pencil only Paper and pencil AND a computer-based option
  • Two sections:
    • Critical Reading
    • Writing Skills
  • Vocabulary tested by sentence completion questions; famous for "SAT Words," often considered obscure
  • Passage-based questions, with passages drawn from random topics
  • Two tests:
    • Reading Test
    • Writing and Language Test
  • No more sentence completions; focus on multiple-meaning words
  • Passages will draw from significant historical or scientific documents – may include informational graphics, such as charts
  • The reading passages will include complex structure and vocabulary
  • Passage-based grammar – including punctuation
MATH Covers:
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Some Algebra II
Focuses on:
  • Application-based, multi-step questions
  • Higher-level math, including trigonometry
  • One set of “extended-thinking” grid-in questions (worth 4 points);
  • Core math competencies (translating math into English and English into math)
  • A deep understanding of the theories behind mathematical principles, such as building equations
CALCULATORS Calculators permitted in every math section Calculators only allowed in the longer of the two math sections
THE ESSAY Required first section of the test (25 minutes, timed)
Students respond to a short prompt by providing personal opinion with supporting evidence
The essay is optional (50 minutes, timed)
Students will be provided a substantial passage (600–700 words) and will then be asked to analyze how the author built their argument; students will need to understand the techniques authors used to write persuasively

While the overall time per question is about the same, certain sections of the test will require a speedier pace.

The Current SAT

The New SAT

Time Allotted (minutes)Number of QuestionsTime Allotted (minutes)Number of Questions
Critical Reading 70 67 Reading 65 52
Writing 60 49 Writing and Language 35 44
Mathematics 70 54 Math 80 58
TOTAL 200 170 TOTAL 180 154
Essay 25 1 Essay (optional) 50 1

Class of 2016 

If you are in the class of 2016, your choices are to either take the ACT, the current SAT, or both. At this point in the school year, we’d recommend taking just one test rather than both. If you’ve already prepped and taken one test, but aren’t satisfied with your score, it might be a good time to try the other test.

No matter what situation you're in, we can help you reach your goals on the SAT and ACT. For information on which test may be better for you, call us at 800-2REVIEW.

Class of 2017 

Congrats! You are the only class with three options for their college entrance exams. You can take the ACT, the current SAT, and/or the New SAT, all of which will help you get into your dream college. Here's our advice:

  • The New SAT is available in March 2016, but scores will be held until after the May test. It will be a while after those first scores are out before you would even know if your score was "good" enough. Imagine applying to colleges without knowing what the average SAT score was.
  • Take the current SAT before time runs out. That last administration is in January 2016. This test has been tried and tested for about a decade, and there are ample materials available to help you prep.
  • Take the ACT. It has been around for eons, is gaining in popularity, and is accepted by all colleges and universities.
  • Really want to take the New SAT? The October 2015 PSAT was the official first look at the New SAT. Go over your PSAT score report carefully when you get it in January to get a head start on your New SAT prep.

For help deciding which test, the Current SAT or ACT, is right for you to start with, you can take a SAT or ACT free practice test  either in person at a location near you or online.

For information on how to build your own personal timeline for success, call us at 800-2REVIEW.