New SAT prep tips

by Hannah Johnson

The new SAT has changed in multiple ways. It has fewer questions and requires less time without the optional essay. The College Board and Khan Academy have also teamed up to bring you a course to prep you to ace the test. While the essay is optional, it is important to remember that some Colleges and Universities will require this component so check with the colleges you’re planning to apply to before making a decision.

The new SAT is broken down in the following way:

An evidence-based reading and writing test that has two components. The first component is the reading test. This test is all multiple choice and associated with passages. Some passages may contain tables, graphs, and charts to help support the information you’re reading.

This reading test is composed of 52 questions and you are allowed 65 minutes to finish. This test will always include a passage from a classic work of U.S. or world literature, a passage from a U.S. founding document, such as the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights, passages about economics, sociology, social science or psychology, and two science passages that contain information about the concepts and developments of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science.

The SAT wants you to use contextual clues from a passage to figure out the meanings of words or phrases as well as decide how an author’s word choice can shape a story.

The second component of this test is the writing and language test. This part of the test is made up of 44 questions and you have 35 minutes to complete the section. It will test your ability to read a passage, identify the mistakes and then fix those mistakes to make the passage better. These are the three components many people use when editing their work.

In the reading section, all questions in this part of the test will also be multiple choice. The test is going to ask you to improve the way a passage reads by changing words and sentences. For example, you might be asked to choose an option that will either add a supporting detail to an argument that was presented during a passage. You will also be asked to improve word choice and choose words or structural changes in a sentence to improve how well a point is developed throughout the paragraph.

The last mandatory part of this test is the math test. The math test is composed of 58 questions and you have 80 minutes to complete them. This test will be composed of grid-in and multiple-choice questions. The questions will focus on algebra and the mastery of linear systems and equations, problem solving and data analysis, and advanced math, which involves the manipulation of complex equations. There will be a calculation portion to the test and a non-calculator portion. It is important to understand how to use your calculator as well as when to use it.

What to bring and what to expect:

The doors will open to your SAT building at 7:45 a.m. The test will begin around 8:30 a.m. and there will be one 10-minute break and one five-minute break during the test.

You should bring your admission ticket, a photo ID, No. 2 pencils, and an approved calculator, which you can check online. It also would be beneficial to bring extra batteries for your calculator, a backpack, and a drink and snacks.

Your Test Scores:

After you take the test, you will receive your scores. At first, they may not seem easy to understand, but The College Board has tried to break it down for you to understand. You can also contact your college or university to see what past freshman have received on their tests.

The mean scores section of your score report will show you the average scores that have been earned by other U.S. test-takers per grade. If your score is around the average then you are most likely on track to learning the skills you need for college.

The College and Career Readiness Benchmarks will show you where you needed to score to be “ready” to go to college after graduating high school. You can also see which places you need the most improvement in by looking into this section.

The Percentile ranks will help you interpret your scores by showing you a percentage of how you compared to other students. Most students that scored in the 50th percentile scored higher than or equal to 50% of test takers. This only shows where you compared to others in your grade.

Keep in mind:

The SAT has now changed to focus on skills and understanding that are needed in college and in your career. There will be a greater emphasis on word meanings and how word choice can change the way a story is portrayed. They have implemented a no penalty policy for guessing.