Preparing for the Redesigned SAT

Unknown-1The long-anticipated redesigned SAT is almost here, and if your high school student is planning to take this exam for the first time this spring, he or she will definitely be impacted.

The redesigned SAT is focused on the skills, knowledge and understandings that predict student success in college and the workforce. Following is a high-level view of what to expect from the redesigned SAT, which debuts in March 2016:


  • Relevant words in context –Obscure vocabulary memorization will soon be a thing of the past. Although vocabulary is still an important part of the SAT, the redesigned SAT will focus on relevant vocabulary in context—words that students will use throughout college and their careers.
  • Command of evidence –In the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Essay sections, students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize and use evidence found in many different sources.
  • Essay analyzing a source –The optional Essay section will have students read a passage and explain how the author builds a persuasive argument. Students may analyze areas such as the author’s use of evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements.
  • Focus on math that matters most –The Math section will focus on three essential types of math: problem solving and data analysis, the heart of algebra, and passport to advanced math. These areas of math are used in a wide range of majors and careers.
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts –The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections will require students to answer questions that are grounded in real-world issues directly related to college and career contexts.
  • Analysis in science and in history/social studies –The redesigned SAT will have students apply their reading, writing, language and math skills to answer questions in science, history and social studies, both in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section.
  • Founding documents and great global conversation – Students will encounter a passage from one of the U.S. founding documents (such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers) and must answer thought-provoking questions about such passages.
  • No penalty for wrong answers – The redesigned SAT will move to a “rights-only” scoring system, removing any penalty for wrong answers.
  • The test is reverting to the old scoring scale. While the current SAT is scored on a 2400-point scale, the College Board has decided to return to the 1600-point scale that was used in 2004 and earlier. The essay score will be separate from the math, reading, and writing sections of the test

The Delaware Department of Education recently announced that the redesigned SAT will replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the state test for public high school juniors, beginning spring of 2016. This means your student’s SAT score can be considered even more important than in the past.

For students and parents who might have lingering concerns about the redesigned SAT, perhaps the ACT would be an option. The ACT is widely used in the heartland of America and the southern states. It has gained popularity, and the ACT is now accepted at any college that takes the SAT entrance exam. However, don’t be misled; parents should be aware that the exam is just as demanding and provoking as the SAT. Your child will be required to use the skills they learned in school to answer questions and put in their best effort.

When choosing which test to take and how best to prepare, students should first seek the advice of their school’s college guidance counselors. There are also companies which specialize in providing SAT and ACT tutoring that can also help you and your teen understand how the redesigned SAT will differ and how your teen needs to adjust his or her study approach.

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