The “New” SAT

With a new school year upon us, high school juniors and seniors will undoubtedly have questions about changes in the SAT format.


The first thing you should know is that these changes are taking place in reaction to the fact that more students took the ACT last year than the SAT. The SAT is changing in order to compete with the growing popularity of the ACT in the hope that the SAT will reclaim its traditional target market. How? You may ask.  Put simply, the revised SAT is becoming more like the existing ACT in form- similar length, optional essay, greater reliance on reading analysis and writing techniques, no loss of credit for incorrect answers, more advanced math content, etc. Detailed comparative studies are easily accessible online and are not the purpose of this essay.

With format changes that result in greater similarity between the two tests, the SAT will not be as skilled based as it has been up to now. Like the ACT, it will put more emphasis on retention and recall of factual information.


Let’s start with the PSAT. It will be given on Sat. Oct 14 or Sat Oct 28. Most schools are opting for the 14th and the College Board is pushing for the earlier date. This October’s PSAT will prepare students for the revised SAT which will be administered starting in March, 2016.


The “old”, unrevised SAT will be given on Oct. 3, Nov.7, Dec3, and Jan.23.


The “new’ revised SAT will be given on March 5, May 7, and June 4.


What should rising juniors do? Obviously they will take the PSAT in October even if they’ve already taken it as sophomores. Next, they should take the Nov. 7 SAT. This is particularly true for students who may have already taken the PSAT as sophomores as they’re already familiar with the “old” SAT format. It’s also true for those who might struggle with the more advanced math of the revised version, and for those who may find it difficult to analyze written passages and/or recognize writing techniques. Don’t let the fact that the essay will become optional on the revised SAT become a determining factor. Students taking the revised SAT should opt for the essay anyway as they will find it good practice for college application essays.


Take the revised or “new” SAT in the Spring, March 5, May 7, or June 4. This way, you will have taken two different versions of the SAT, and you can send out whichever set of scores proves to be your better showcase. Colleges will accept scores from both the “old” SAT and the “new.” Remember, also, that you can always retake the SAT in the fall of the senior year. However, scoring well enough on either version in the 11th grade might make retaking the test unnecessary. That’s a definite “plus” for seniors who are busy enough in the fall with campus visitations, writing application essays, collecting letters of recommendation, etc.