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Exactly what are the major changes to the SAT going to be? Here they are in plain English:
1. No penalty for wrong answers. Students will want to answer every question on the SAT since there will no longer be a penalty for wrong answers.
2. The essay portion will become optional. Many colleges will likely require that students complete the essay, but technically, it will be optional.
3. Also, the type of essay students are asked to write will be different than the type of essay students are currently asked to write. In the words of the College Board, “students will read a passage and explain how the author builds an argument. They’ll need to support their claims with evidence from the passage.” The actual essay question (what the College Board calls the “essay prompt”) will be “shared in advance and remain consistent.” What will change from test to test is the source material or passage that the student needs to build his or her argument from.
4. There will be reading comprehension questions in which students have to, in the words of the College Board, “support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.”
5. The SAT will ditch the kinds of vocabulary words that students only see on the SAT and will use words that are seen more in college and career, such as “empirical” and “synthesis.”
6. The math sections are going to focus on a more narrow range of topics: linear equations, ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning, and functions or complex equations. These concepts are on the current SAT but on the new SAT they will be focused on more heavily.
7. A calculator will only be permitted on some of the math sections. Now, a calculator is permitted on all sections.
8. Back to a scale of 1600. There will be a separate essay score.
9. SAT will be available in both paper and digital forms.
Here is a chart from the College Board that compares the current and new SAT.
And here is a second page from the College Board that outlines the 8 key changes.
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