The SAT has been altered several times since it was first introduced in order to meet the changing needs of students, teachers, and colleges. The new SAT better reflects today's curriculum and reinforces the importance of writing skills. The following is a brief overview of the changes that have been implemented.
The writing section is new. It includes multiple-choice questions on grammar and usage. These questions measure a student's understanding of how to revise and edit and how to recognize an error in a sentence. The multiple-choice questions count for 70 percent of the writing score. The writing section also includes a student-written essay. The essay measures a student's ability to present ideas in a logical format, develop a point of view, and express his ideas under timed conditions. Students will have 25 minutes to complete the essay. The essay counts for 30 percent of the writing score.
Critical Reading Section
The critical reading section (formerly known as the verbal section) has been slightly altered. Analogies have been replaced by short reading passages. These reading passages measure the kind of reasoning formerly measured by analogies. The reading passages are taken from different fields, including natural sciences, humanities, social science, and literary fiction. This section measures a student's knowledge of genre, cause and effect, rhetorical devices, and comparative arguments.
The math section has also changed. Quantitative comparisons have been eliminated. The content now reflects the mathematics that college-bound students typically learn during their first three years of high school, including Algebra II. Approximately 15-20 percent of math questions on the new SAT cover either new topics or cover previous topics in greater depth. Though every question can still be answered without a calculator, a scientific or graphing calculator is recommended for the new SAT. However, students should bring a calculator with which they are comfortable and familiar.
The new SAT takes approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete, as opposed to the previous 3 hours. Each section is still scored on the familiar 200-800 scale. For more information on the SAT, visit the College Board website.