What's So Different About the New SAT?

If you look back at your high school experience, there's one thing that probably stands out to you as the absolute worst part: the SAT. The studying, the hundreds of hours spent memorizing pointless words, and the knot in your stomach when it’s results day. Well, colleges started thinking the SAT sucked, too, and now CollegeBoard is making some major changes to try to make people believe in the power of the test again—starting this Saturday.

According to CollegeBoard, “SAT questions focus on skills that matter most for college readiness and success, according to the latest research." They're trying to bring the test out of the past, and actually make it relevant to students and colleges today.

On the previous test, for example, students spent way too much time memorizing words than they will never use. CollegeBoard says that now, the redesigned SAT will focus on “important, widely used words and phrases found in texts in many different subjects” and will ask you questions in order to find out what the word means based on the context. These are words that you'll most likely actually use in college and even after. 

Another major change is that this SAT will focus on evidence based reading passages. Instead of a few short passages like in the past, the new test will give you much longer passages and more questions to answer, in an attempt to analyze and interpret the information, according to BuzzFeed. The SAT essay will also be completely optional.

One of the best changes is that on the new SAT, you will no longer lose points for question you answer incorrectly. You'll only gain points when you answer correctly. So go ahead and guess all you want, because it doesn’t make a difference if you mess up! No more trying to decide if you should go for the answer you're not sure about or just leave it blank.

Basically, the new test should be more realistic and give a better reading of your skills. BuzzFeed also states that the old SAT score “is directly correlated with one thing: your parents’ income." Meaning, the old SAT didn't show anything about how smart you are—Just how rich you are, and whether or not your parents can afford for you to take expensive prep classes. That's not super helpful information for colleges, so CollegeBoard is trying to even things out by offering free online prep classes. They're also not letting in any people from test prep companies get insider knowledge by taking the test on Saturday.

With all the new changes and resources, it'll hopefully be much easier for students to do well on this test and have it accurately represent what kind of student they are. Break a leg!