5 Things Every Student Should Know About the New SAT

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So, you’re studying for the SAT? Sweet! I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the new SAT, which comes out in March. Don’t worry, we’ve gathered together some key information you need to know for the new SAT, so you can prep like a pro.

There are a few main changes, and we’ve got some good news and some not-so-good news about the updated test, but we’re here to help!

1. Less Sections

Currently, there are three sections to the SAT, but the new test will feature only two: Math and Evidence-Based Reading & Writing. The test is shorter in length, but it’s also longer in time. Expect to read a lot as some sections will require multiple answers and critical thinking, which will take more time. My only tip for this is to have a good breakfast and get your game face on.

2. If You Don’t Know it, Guess!

There will no longer be a penalty for wrong answers, so you are free to guess on a question that has you stumped without losing any points. Hurray! (This is what the ACT does too.) Another helpful change is there will be four possible answers instead of five, which increases your chance at getting the right answer. When in doubt, give it your best guess instead of leaving an answer blank.

3. Familiar Vocab

Hopefully the vocabulary words will look more familiar to you from class as many of the words are taken from “real-world documents drawn from various realms of history and culture.” Instead of having to define obscure words, you’ll need to know various definitions of the word as it fits the context of the sentence. It’s more of an analysis, which means no sentence completion problems either. Check out Literature SAT Subject Test study materials to prep for this portion. The New York Times says to prepare for this section “By reading often and diving into various kinds of texts, especially nonfiction”.

4. I Hope You Love Math!

The math section has “fewer questions based on equations and more word problems” requiring multiples steps to show you understand the “theories behind mathematical principles, such as building equations.” Expect less Geometry, but more Algebra.

The New York Times tells students to “Prepare for linear equations and inequalities, and systems of equations in two variables.” There will be a little bit of trigonometry and statistics covered, as well as a calculator-free section, so practice some old school paper and pencil problems. If that sounds overwhelming, keep in mind the focus in on foundational math skills versus in-depth math skills.

5. Optional Essay

Not all colleges will require you to complete the essay, so double check if the colleges you’ve applied to require it or not. If you’re not sure, you should go for it! It’s important to know the essay doesn’t just look at your writing skills, but how you analyze and use evidence. Here’s what The New York Times says about the essay:

“The prompts, which will look familiar to those who’ve taken Advanced Placement English, ask for a critical response to a specific argument. In: analysis. Out: writing about your personal experiences. For example: Read excerpts from a 1967 speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and explain how he used evidence, reasoning and/or stylistic elements to support his argument that American involvement in the Vietnam War was unjust.”

You Can Do It!

Just like the old SAT, the new one will measure how you do under pressure. Be prepared for a long (3 hours, 50 minutes with essay) and mentally challenging test. It will help to take some practice tests like this one. Overall, give yourself time to prepare for the test and get a good night’s rest before test day. Best of luck to you!

P.S. – What tips did we miss?

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Esther Laurie is a staff writer at ChurchLeaders.com. Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.