Out With the Old, In With the New SAT®!

For the first time in more than a decade, the College Board’s SAT® experienced a number of critical changes across all sections in both format & content, including timing breakdown, an optional essay section and an updated 1600-point scoring system with no penalty for wrong answers.

Prepworks—the nation’s ed-tech leader in personalized learning and test preparation—points out 9 specific changes that have the greatest effect on how students should prepare for the New SAT.

1. Perfect score of 1600

From 2005 to 2016, the SAT was scored on a scale of 2400 with three equal sub-sections: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing. The new test combines the Critical Reading and Writing sections into one sub-section named Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, with a perfect composite score of 1600.

2. No penalty for incorrect responses

Students won’t be penalized for incorrect answers, so don’t leave any questions on the bubble sheet blank! This removes some of the strategy as to when to skip versus guess on questions students were not confident in answering.

3. Evidence-based reading

Students have to answer questions in context of the passage being presented, as compared to previous years when many questions were presented individually without an over-arching connection. This additional layer requires a more in-depth application of reading skills.

4. Goodbye obscure vocabulary!

Students don’t need to study obscure vocabulary built through memorization. Instead, the test will now focus on functional vocabulary in context of a passage or text.

5. More graphs and charts

In an attempt to combat the Science section of the ACT and test students’ quantitative analysis, the new SAT has questions that test students on information from graphs and charts throughout the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

6. More relatable and relevant texts

The new SAT reading section includes excerpts from U.S. founding documents and other important works in literature. The goal is to align the content of the SAT to the type of material students interact with regularly at the high school level.

7. Fewer answer choices

The number of answer options is decreased from five to four, which improves the probability of guessing correctly and allows student to spend less time comparing multiple-choice options.

8. No calculator portion of the Math section

The new SAT places a greater emphasis on basic math operations through a “no calculator” section. Not being able to use a calculator on the more difficult sections could challenge students with a weaker understanding of difficult math concepts.

The new SAT is also very Algebra heavy with over 60% of all math questions rooted in Algebra.

9. New and improved essay

Past essays were personal opinion pieces, but the new SAT asks students to read a passage and then dissect the efficacy of the author and offer insight into the persuasiveness of the passage.

It’s also worth noting that the essay is no longer factored into the writing score and is optional.


Since March 2014, when College Board first announced its plans for the structural overhaul of the test, Prepworks has been studying the standards and developing its curriculum and strategies to specifically meet the demands of the New SAT.  The Prepworks content team is made up of New SAT and standardized testing experts. Combine that expertise with Prepworks’ adaptive technology and you have a recipe to guarantee student improvement and ensure that all students are prepared on official test day!

Preparing for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing:

Prepworks applies unique methodologies, focusing on passage mapping and targeted reading to use the test questions to the student advantage, helping to reduce the emphasis on overall comprehension and uses the test structure to your advantage.

Preparing for Math:

Prepworks ensures students have the core math skills needed to succeed and then personalizes strategies based on student performance to improve outcomes. Students need to become fluent in math application without using a calculator, so being comfortable with numbers and operations is critical – learning shortcuts to frequently presented math concepts helps students to answer questions efficiently in a timed environment.

For an extensive breakdown of the Redesigned SAT, please visit https://myprepworks.com/test-preparation/redesigned-sat/.

Contact a Prepworks Program Advisor today for a free SAT consultation & learn how your student can achieve his or her personal best score on the official test!  Call 855-365-7737 or email the team at [email protected].


Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been an education professor for over 17 years. She is also a pastor’s wife, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 9-15) in a sweet tea sippin’, wrap around porch sittin’, sweet southern Georgia town. Jamie is also a contributing author at Online Education for Kids and MomSCHOOL

March 10, 2016


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