No standardized test is perfect, but anyone who really know the SAT will tell you that as far as standardized tests go, it's one of the best. Why? Because it is very cleverly designed to do exactly what it claims to do: it tests a student's ability to reason. That's why colleges pay so much attention to it, and that's why such a market has developed around it. Dozens of test prep agencies claim that they can teach a student to "beat" the SAT by offering test-taking strategies that take advantage of the test's format. These strategies work, to an extent, but we at Parliament Tutors have found that the best way to prepare for the test is to start with work that strengthens the very skill the SAT examines-- analytical reasoning-- and then add to that an arsenal of strategies to maximize the student's scoring potential.
In 2016 the SAT was redesigned to better address changing education. The “new” SAT as it’s called, takes 3 hours to complete and has an additional 50-minute optional essay. The test consists of 2 sections: Math and Critical Reading/Writing. Each section has a total 800 possible points and possible scores on the SAT range from 400 to 1600, combining the results from each of the two 800-point sections. Taking the SAT or its competitor, the ACT, is required for freshman entry to many, but not all, universities in the United States.
Breakdown of Math Section
On the new SAT, the math section is divided into two parts: one which allows the use of a calculator and one which does not. (Don't be afraid of the no-calculator section. The reason you’re not allowed a calculator is you should be able to solve these questions without one. )
The new SAT Math test will also include problems where information is given (e.g., table, chart, diagram) and multiple questions are asked regarding the same figure or scenario. These questions will be a similar format to those in the Reading/Writing sections of the SAT.
College Board has broken the major, must-know math concepts down into 3 areas. They have named them the Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. Not included in these categories, but still found on the test, are geometry and trigonometry.
- Heart of Algebra Questions that fall into this category are those assessing core algebra concepts. Systems of equations, linear equations, and inequalities are the three main components that make up this section. Also included in this portion is graphing, and how changes in an equation will affect the shape of the graph.
- Problem Solving & Data Analysis These are the questions that you will likely encounter graphs, charts, and other figures in. Concepts included in this section are: ratios, percentages, unit conversion, correlations, linear and exponential growth, probability, and statistics.
- Passport to Advanced Math As the name implies, the concepts in this category are those associated with more advanced math. The questions in this section cover topics such as quadratic equations, polynomials (factoring, adding/subtracting, multiplying/dividing), nonlinear relationships between variables, and more
Breakdown of Critical Reading/Writing Section
The verbal portion of the new SAT is divided into a distinct reading and writing section with the optional essay being completely separate. Unlike the previous SAT all verbal questions on the new SAT are passage based. There is 1 passage on U.S. and World Literature, 2 on History/Social Studies, and 2 about Science. There are also questions around interpreting data displayed in charts and graphs. Yippee. Sounds fun….
Where To Start
Whew that was certainly a lot of information to take in! These are just some of the many changes coming to the new SAT. Your Parliament Tutor will go over the full list of changes in detail with you to make sure you are prepared for the new SAT. Together, you will not only review the material, but go over unique and helpful strategies to improve your speed and your score.
Old SAT vs. New SAT (2016)
|Old SAT||New SAT|
|Scoring||600 - 2400||400 - 1600
Subscore and Cross-test Scores available
|Timing||3 Hours 45 Minutes||3 Hours ( 50 minute optional essay)|
|Sections||Critical Reading: 200-800
Essay (included in Writing score)
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200-800
Optional Essay (separately scored)
|Guessing Penalty||1/4 guessing penalty||no guessing penalty|
|Format||Available in print||Available in print or on computer|
New SAT Structure
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing||Math|
|Sections||65-minute Reading section
35-minute Writing and Language section
|25-minute No Calculator section
55-minute Calculator section
|Questions||52 Questions (Reading)
44 Questions (Writing and Language)
|20 Questions (No Calculator)
38 Questions (Calculator)