The new SAT is coming in March 2024, but what does that mean exactly? How will those changes impact how you should be preparing for the test? Here are the most significant changes to the SAT and what they mean for you:
1) Goodbye pencil and paper
The test will be administered digitally – no more worrying about having enough #2 pencils!
2) Combining the current sections
The current SAT is composed of a Math with Calculator, Math no Calculator, Writing (Grammar), and Reading sections. The new SAT fuses these sections: it’s composed of one Math section (all with calculator) and one Language section (Grammar and Reading fused together). The math section will have two modules, 27 questions apiece, and its topics will range from Pre-Algebra through Algebra II.
The current SAT gives four passages for grammar, 11 questions apiece, and five passages for Reading, 10-11 questions apiece. Perhaps the most significant change in structure and content is that these two sections are now combined, and rather than assign 10-11 questions per passage, each question comes from its own small passage, usually about a paragraph. While the current SAT tests students on Natural Science, Social Science, Prose Fiction, and Humanities, the new SAT ups the ante: all of these genres remain, but there will also be passages from Drama and Poetry. In terms of the questions, Grammar remains the same, but the test will incorporate more ‘difficult’ Reading questions.
3) The test learns about you as you go
The test is composed of adaptive modules, meaning the test learns about you as a test taker as you progress through the exam and assigns you various questions based on your performance. This will make it more difficult to prepare for the SAT with practice tests; you can view example tests from previous years at College Board’s website, but they won’t reflect the new modular format.
What Stays the Same
The test is still scored out of 1600 points! Colleges still have no preference between the SAT and ACT, and they’ll likewise have no preference between the current and new SAT.
Knowing when to test is just as important as how to test, and the changes to the SAT do pose certain obstacles. While we know quite a lot about the new SAT, there are still some unknown factors and a limited number of practice tests available. So, if you’re planning to take the current version of the SAT, you must do so by the end of 2023! If you’re planning to test later than that, then it’s highly recommended you take the ACT as this test has no plans to change its format or content.
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Division Supervisor of Test Prep
University of New Mexico, MFA
Pennsylvania State University, BA