You’ve been hearing quite a bit about the substantially redesigned SAT rolling out this March (March 2 in WeHa public schools, to be specific, and March 5 nationwide). And I strongly suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit more in the weeks to come. The bottom line is, despite the protestations of the College Board and Kahn Academy (which has had video help freely available for YEARS without any hoopla), the changes make tutors, classes, and other forms of extra help and preparation MORE, not less, important. Because the SAT hasn’t changed in a decade, everyone has some familiarity with the current/old question types, level of difficulty, guessing strategies, and the like. The redesigned test features changes in content, format, and style—necessitating different test-taking tactics and stategies— and those who are well-armed with knowledge and practice prior to game day will be at a marked advantage over those who go in ill-prepared.
SO…our bottom-line recommendation at CPE is this: even if you get a free test on your state’s nickel (as you will in CT, for example), you would be well-advised to have some private tutoring or take a prep class before you first sit for this new SAT. CPE offers private tutoring, semi-private tutoring, and small class options to help you beat the new exam. See our complete Winter and Spring Class Schedule and Registration page. We also offer lots of good free intel via this blog and other CPE Website resources (see navigation above).
Of course, the first question everyone asks is, will the new test be easier or harder? The answer is, overall, the test will be…wait for it…. (scroll to the bottom if you really can’t wait). Here’s how Dr. Yo busts it down on his Easier/Harder scale, section by section.
Two tests overall, Verbal and Math (versus 3, Critical Reading, Math, & Writing) so new scores out of 1600 (versus 2400).
Four answer choices (versus five)
No Guessing Penalty (versus 1/4 point for wrong answers)
Length: Longer overall (3 hrs 50 min with writing) and individual sections are longer (but fewer of them)
Dr. Yo’s Format Rating:
No more esoteric vocabulary
Reading Test – 65 min (52 questions) – Still includes challenging back-to-back passages – focus on historical “founding” documents and individual sections are longer (but fewer of them)
Writing & Language Test – 35 min (44 questions) – Still need to know what makes for high-quality writing and the rules of Standard Written English, and instead of one 25 and one 10 minute Writing section, there is a single 35 min Writing and Language Test
Dr. Yo’s Verbal Test Rating:
Math Test – One 25 min (20 questions) section without calculator, one 55 min (38 questions) sections with calculator. Overall there are 10 more minutes of math on the redesigned test than the old, and 25 of those minutes are without a calculator. No brainer rating: Harder
Dr. Yo’s Math Test Rating:
Essay – 50 minutes to read and analyze a given passage based on evidence, reasoning, and style. Although the essay is technically optional, like that on the ACT, it will be required by many schools. It is longer, requires reading and interpreting and analyzing a passage and the assignment is more substantial.
Dr. Yo’s Essay Test Rating:
Bottom-line Overall Redesigned SAT vs the old SAT Rating:
Ok, so it’s not great news from the test taker’s perspective. But here IS some good news: 1) If it’s harder for you, then it’s harder for everyone else, and, bottom-line, your performace only matters relative to that of the rest of the competition; 2) at CPE, we got you. We’re all over this new exam, and we have, right now, options for private tutoring, semi-private tutoring, and small class options to help you beat the new exam. See our complete Winter and Spring Class Schedule and Registration page. Whatever you do, don’t panic. We’re here to help!