The All New 2016 SAT

When you or your homeschooler thinks about college, chances are the SAT comes up in the conversation. Most people equate the SAT with college acceptance. The last time the SAT was revised was in 2005, so why now?


What is Behind the Changes?

College Board President and CEO David Coleman says, “Admissions officers and counselors have said they find the data from admissions exams useful, but are concerned that these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms and surrounded by costly test preparation.” Mr.Coleman is also the architect of Common Core. Coincidence??

Mr.Coleman goes on to say students who can afford to pay for test prep have an unfair advantage over those who cannot. However, there are free resources available to those who are willing to look for it. The new SAT is to be based upon what is actually being taught in the public classroom (CC), which would seem to make test prep unnecessary, right? The new test is supposed to level the playing field.

If the new SAT is aligned to what students are learning in public school and public school kids are being taught Common Core, then it makes sense that Common Core will be the basis of the SAT. Hmmm, sounds like a way to help CC gain acceptance in my personal opinion. If your homeschooler does not use CC in their homeschooling, they will be at a disadvantage if they choose to take the SAT.

Money could be a factor. The ACT has been steadily growing in popularity  the last several years, which means the market share for the SAT is down…time to make a change.

What is Changing?

The new test will include three sections:  evidence-based reading and writing, math, and an optional essay. Each of these areas have been revamped in order to stop students from filling in a bubble on a test sheet. Coleman says the board is not interested in students just picking an answer, but in justifying their answers.

~The essay will be optional

~Incorrect answers will not be penalized

~Free test prep will be available via the College Board and Khan Academy

~The first revamped test will be available in the spring of 2016

~The test will be offered in print and on computer at select locations

~The length of the SAT will be about three hours, with an added 50 minutes for the essay. Precise timing will be finalized after further research.

~The exam will revert back to the 2005 scoring scale–400- to 1600-point scale.

~The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section will each be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale

~Scores for the Essay will be reported separately

To prepare students for the test, the College Board will partner for the first time with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials, starting in spring 2015. Afterward, income-eligible students will receive fee waivers to apply to four colleges free.


Reading and Writing Changes

No longer will students be asked to complete sentences with memorized, obscure words. The new test will ask students to consider the context of how words are used. Students will encounter words they are likely to see in their studies.

The reading and writing sections will include questions that require students to cite evidence for their answer choices. They will read passages from a broader range of disciplines, including science, history, social studies, and literature.

Math Changes

Calculators will no longer be allowed on every portion. The math test will focus on data analysis and real world problem-solving, algebra, and some more advanced math concepts. Coleman says the math test questions focus on areas that most prepare students for college and career.

Essay Changes

The essay was added in 2005, but will become optional. Criticism from educators brought about this change. Educators said the essay focused too much on what test takers wrote. They want essays in which the student is required to show truth in their statements and pose reasonable arguments.

Essays will be scored separately from the rest of the test. The prompt will basically be the same in every test–consider a passage and then write an essay that analyzes how the author made an argument while using evidence and styled ideas.

In Short

According to the College Board, students will encounter documents, informational graphics, graphs, and charts about relevant information. They will interpret, synthesize, and analyze information.

The College Board will release detailed specifications about the test and sample test questions about the redesigned SAT on April 16.



Jackie, a former public and private school teacher, enjoys homeschooling her 16 year old daughter via Time4Learning's new high school courses and other supplementals. Jackie keeps busy writing study guides, educational articles, and literature units for various online education companies as well as acting as an online marketing consultant. She is a contributing author at 3 D Learners.

March 17, 2014


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