Empty Chairs

The SAT will be getting a Common Core makeover. With the new standards being instituted, it seems only logical the SAT undergo a redesign.

Basic Changes

  • There will be three sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math, and the Essay.
  • 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 once again be scored on a 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.
  • Access to Opportunity initiative where low-income students will be given four fee waivers to apply to college.
  • Khan Academy will offer free online practice problems from old tests and instructional videos showing how to solve them.

Eight Key changes

Key Shifts of the SAT Redesign

Compare the current SAT to the redesigned SAT to see what’s changing.

Current SAT

Redesigned SAT

Reading and writing sections do not require students to cite evidence. Students select answers to demonstrate their understanding of texts but are not asked to support their answers. Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.
Source documents do not represent a wide range of academic disciplines. While many different types of text might appear on any SAT, there is no requirement that students encounter scientific or historical sources. Source documents originate from a wide range of academic disciplines. On every SAT, students will encounter source texts from science, history, and social studies, analyzing them the way they would in those classes.
Vocabulary focused on words that are sometimes obscure and not widely used in college and career. These words, while interesting and useful in specific instances, often lack broad utility in varied disciplines and contexts. Vocabulary focused on words that are widely used in college and career. The exam will focus on words such as synthesis and empirical whose specific meaning depends on the context.
The essay measures students’ ability to construct an argument based on their background and experiences. Since students are not given source material, there is no way to verify the accuracy of their argument or examples The essay measures students’ ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience.  Responses will be evaluated based on the strength of the analysis as well as the coherence of the writing.
Math section samples content from a wide range of high school-level math. There are often only one or two questions on each topic and students need to cover a great deal of math to be prepared for all topics. Math section draws from fewer topics that evidence shows most contribute to student readiness for college and career training. Students can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they will be assessed.
Calculator permitted for full math section. It is difficult to assess students’ sense of numbers, their fluency in calculation, and their ability understand concepts rather than plug in the answers. Calculator permitted on certain portions of the math section. The calculator can be used where most appropriate, but the no-calculator section allows greater assessment of students’ understanding, fluency, and technique
Reading and writing does not require data analysis. The reading and writing section does not often include passages from science and social studies with graphs and tables; questions rarely require students to both read text and analyze data. Students asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two. Students will show the work they do throughout their classes by reading science articles and historical and social studies sources.
Source documents drawn from texts that are not widely recognized and publicly available. Students have no idea before they take the test what the reading passages will be about. Each exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation. Students read from either a founding document such as the Declaration of Independence or from the conversation they inspire in the United States and around the world, such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or King’s” I Have a Dream” speech.
Scoring deducts points for incorrect answers. Students get ¼ point deducted for incorrect answers; no points deducted for omitted answers. Scoring does not deduct points for incorrect answers (rights-only scoring). Students are encouraged to select the best answer to every question.
Essay is required. Essay is optional.
Score scale of 2400. Score scale of 1600 with separate score for Essay.
SAT available on paper only. SAT available in paper and digital forms.

Sample items for each section will be available on April 16, 2014.

Additional sources

New York Times

College Board

Additional College Board Initiatives

Behind the SAT: The Good and Bad of the 2016 Redesign |U.S. News & World Report

Raising the G.E.D. Bar Stirs Concern for Students | New York Times