The SAT has undergone its biggest change in 30 years. The New SAT made its debut in March 2016 and impacts 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 is 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 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 is key.

Changes You'll LoveChanges You Won't Love
  • No penalty for wrong answers, so students don’t have to worry about losing points for guessing incorrectly. (Just like on the ACT.)
  • There are 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 require multiple steps to get an answer.
  • The reading passages include complex structure and vocabulary.
  • Foundational math skills are more important.
  • Reasoning and critical thinking skills are paramount.
  • There are fewer sections on the new test, but they are longer in time than the old test.

See New SAT Prep Options

Are My Scores Here Yet? 

YES! Visit The College Board website to get your scores .

How Should I Prep for The New SAT?

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 for their SAT test date .

For more details on the changes, click New SAT Structure .

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

The New SAT (as of spring 2016)
SECTIONS 2 sections
  • Math
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
SCORING 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 (without essay)
3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay)
ANSWER CHOICES 4 answer choices per question
INCORRECT ANSWER PENALTY No penalty for incorrect answers
FORMAT OF TEST Paper and pencil (The College Board has announced a computer-based option is forthcoming.)
  • 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 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 only allowed in the longer of the two math sections
THE ESSAY 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

Timing on the New SAT

Time Allotted (minutes)Number of Questions
Reading 65 52
Writing and Language 35 44
Math 80 58
TOTAL 180 154
Essay (optional) 50 1

Not sure which test to take or when? Our college prep timelines will keep you on track.

Did you take the PSAT in October 2016? Go over your PSAT score report carefully to identify areas where you need additional prep for the SAT.

Want to compare the New SAT with the ACT? Check out our infographic and take our quiz: Should I Take the SAT, the ACT, or Both?

For help deciding which test, the 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 plan for success, call us at 800-2REVIEW.