2016 SAT redesign

Posted : March 20, 2014
Last Updated : March 20, 2014

2016 SAT redesign

In March 2014, College Board announced that a redesigned SAT will be available beginning spring 2016. According to the president of the College Board, these changes stem from standardized tests having become "far too disconnected from the work of our high schools." The new SAT will more closely reflect the real work of school and career. Here is an overview of the key changes for the redesigned 2016 SAT.

While the current SAT is only offered in print, the redesigned SAT will be offered in print and in digital format (at selected locations). In addition, the layout of the redesigned exam will feature questions that emphasize in-depth analysis of content instead of focusing on broad range topics and content.

The Essay, which has been required since 2005, will become optional on the redesigned SAT (although some school districts and colleges will still require it). Currently, on the required Essay, students have 25 minutes to write a persuasive essay in response to a prompt, and the accuracy of the information is not tested. With the new optional Essay, students will have 50 minutes to read a passage and analyze the ways its author used evidence, reasoning, and stylistic elements to build an argument. The accuracy of the information on the optional Essay will be tested.

Instead of focusing on a wide variety of math topics, the 2016 SAT will focus on three areas:

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning
  • The Heart of Algebra – linear equations and systems
  • Passport to Advanced Math – complex equations

The test will sample from additional topics in math, but it will keep a strong focus on these three areas listed.

Another change to the Math segment involves the use of calculators. Differing from the current policy where calculator use is permitted for all math sections, the redesigned SAT will no longer permit calculators for every section.

Reading and Writing
The Critical Reading section and the Writing section on the current SAT will be combined into the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section on the redesigned SAT. The current Critical Reading section has two question types: sentence completion and passage-based questions. The new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section will no longer feature sentence completions. Instead, this new section will focus on:

  • Interpreting the meaning of real-world words based on the context
  • Revising and editing content in passages
  • Analyzing literature, humanities, history, social studies, and science passages; and career-related sources
  • Analyzing one passage from America's founding documents (such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) or text about freedom, justice, and human dignity (such as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech)

For the 2016 SAT, the guessing penalty, in which points are deducted for incorrect answers, will be eliminated. Furthermore, the exam will once again be scored on a 1600-point scale, instead of the current 2400-point scale. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section will each be scored on an 800-point scale. The Essay section will receive a separate score.

Test Length
Students are given 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the current SAT. College Board predicts that the length of the redesigned SAT will be about three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the Essay section; however, precise timing will not be finalized until further research is completed.

College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to provide students with free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. This test prep material should be ready to launch in spring 2015. Please visit collegeboard.org for further information regarding the 2016 SAT redesign, as they will continue to provide updates until the changes take effect.

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2016 SAT redesign

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