The New SAT: What You Need to Know.

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The SAT:  scary words for many high school juniors and seniors about to embark on their college search. Knowing their score on this test could make or break their chances at acceptance into their dream schools and qualification for significant scholarship money.  So naturally, it’d be good to understand the test before taking it, in order to optimize performance.  The good news: there’s already a plethora of material written explaining and giving practice for the SAT and its counterpart the ACT.  The bad news:  the SAT has recently been “redesigned,” meaning it won’t look or operate like past SATs. 

“To keep up with global change, new standards have been set in education. The new SAT will be more like the ACT in the sense that it will be testing school skills more with less ‘testing tricks,'” Amanda White, from the College and Career center in the counselors’ office said. 

“Both SAT (Collegeboard) and ACT offer free online test prep, so go to their website for help,” Mrs. White said.  In addition, DPHS will be offering new SAT prep classes through CatalystPrep on February 20th and 21st. Registration is now under way at,” Mrs. White said. 

This means that even with a new design of the test having just come out, there’s no need to go in blind if trying to secure a high score for college and scholarship applications.

In a nutshell, the new SAT will be similar to the ACT in that it will be a more concrete test of knowledge rather than a test of abstract thinking skills.  First, the new SAT will have a combined “evidence-based reading” and “writing” section rather than separate “critical reading” and “writing” sections.  The bulking together of these parts will also result in the shift from a scoring scale of 600-2400 to a scale of 400-1600.  Also, students will be happy to hear that there is no longer a 1/4 point penalty for incorrect answers.  The time has changed from 3 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours.  Finally, the essay portion on the new SAT is optional (like it is on the ACT).  Choosing this option will increase test time by 50 minutes.  (Information taken from as of 1/12/16)

As for the nature of material tested, according to, the new test focuses “on the knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success,” rather than “on general reasoning skills.”  Additionally, it places “Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact” as opposed to the old test which places “Emphasis on vocabulary, often in limited contexts.”

Registration for the last administration of the old SAT has already passed, but registration for the first administration of the new test on March 5th will be open until February 5th, and the second one on May 7th until April 8th.  Both will include a fee of $54.50.  Information on both of these test is available at 

When deciding what tests to take, it’s advisable to take multiple tests to increase the chances of obtaining a superior score. 

“Some students may do better on one test than the other, so in the counseling office, we sometimes encourage college-bounds students to take both, especially in this next year with the new SAT coming into the scene. Most colleges accept both tests, but always check with your school of interest to make sure of their admission requirements,” Mrs. White said. 

So there it is:  a solid test score will make for a competitive application, whether for college admission or scholarships.  Taking multiple tests will give a student the opportunity to identify and improve their weaknesses as well as reinforce their strengths, and the sooner one starts the better, so as to have the most time before graduation to compile test scores.  

“…As always, check with the college you are wanting to go to for the way they do it, but many will super score. That means they’ll take the highest scores from multiple tests. So, for example, if you scored a 500 on the reading section and a 700 on the math on the March test, but you scored a 650  in reading and a 670 in math on the May test, they’ll take your 650 Reading from your second (May) test and 700 math on your first (March) test,” Mrs. White said.  

So, there’s virtually no risk in taking the test multiple times.  A good test score is attainable and will do wonders for applications.

Other recommended resources for further reading:


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