The New SAT

Did you know about 72% of PA Virtual students continue their education in some way after graduation? Students preparing to enroll in college should take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or ACT before graduation. In 2016, some major changes were implemented to the SAT assessment. From here on out, here are a few things students should be prepared for when signing up to take the SAT:

Timing is Everything

  • Clocking in at 3 hours and 50 minutes (including the essay), the new SAT still takes up a good portion of your Saturday morning.
  • You can expect the Math and Evidence-Based Reading & Writing sections to each be broken into two parts, lasting anywhere from 35 minutes to 65 minutes.
  • Fall testing dates are set for October 1 and November 5, but interested students should sign up at least a month ahead of time. High schools all over the state offer the test on different days, so cyber students will be able to take the test somewhere close to home!

The Perfect Score

  • The number for “perfection” is back to 1600 – a number many of your parents are familiar with. 800 points is the maximum for Math and Evidence Based Reading & Writing.
  • Instead of a 2400 point scale, where 800 points were at stake for your essay, the essay portion will now be optional and not count towards your final score.

Writing Fun

  • Recent grads can tell you all about the mandatory essay – which is now gone! The new writing portion is drastically different from what your older peers may have experienced and is now completely optional.
  • The writing prompts for the new SAT are said to be similar to the prompts used in the AP English exam. Before, students were able to illustrate their writing abilities by expanding on a wide variety of topics, but now students will be asked to analyze passages about history or science and use your writing skills to explain how the passage builds a claim or argument.
  • While the essay itself is optional, certain colleges will require an essay score for an application. Find out which schools require or recommend the essay here!

So, why the changes? The SAT came under critique for allegedly using words and phrasing that “tricked” students in to choosing wrong answers, and purposely making the test more difficult than necessary. The new changes are said to better reflect the Common Core, which many high schools have adopted– just like the PA Core Standards we build our curriculum around.  Now that you know what to expect, if you are worried about taking the test, find a study buddy, enroll in an SAT test prep course, or take free practice tests online!


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