What To Keep In Mind When Taking the New SAT
The first administration of the redesigned SAT is this Saturday, March 5, and for students preparing for the college admissions process, this test is a big departure from the past SAT. At IvyWise, we’re advising students to delay taking the new SAT or to take the ACT instead, as colleges weigh both exams equally, but for students who are already prepared to take the new SAT this year, here are some things to keep in mind on test-day and beyond.
It’s ok to guess!
The elimination of the ¼ point deduction for wrong answers is a game-changer for students, as now there won’t be a penalty for guessing. Process of elimination will also be easier, as now there will be four answer choices as opposed five. Not only will students have fewer options to choose from, they can still guess and not risk losing points even if they’re only able to eliminate one answer as incorrect.
Be prepared to put your calculator away.
The new SAT math will have two sections, however, one section will not allow students to use calculators. Students should be prepared to do a lot of reading this section, as the elimination of the calculator will force the test to focus more on word problems, problem solving, visuals, and more.
If you take the optional writing section, be sure to plan your essay effectively.
Now that the essay portion of the test is optional, students who choose not to take it will have a shorter test. However, for those who choose to take it (since many colleges require either the SAT or ACT with a writing sample) the essay section is significantly different than in the past. Now, instead of a 25-minute essay section addressing a topic with a personal opinion, the essay will now be 50-minutes and require students to critically analyze a passage or argument, citing specific examples and evaluating how the argument is built, writing techniques, and more. This will require significant planning, so students should be prepared to efficiently map out their essay and analysis before writing. While students will have more time on this essay, it is more complex and analytical, so students should use their time wisely.
Don’t forget your scores will be delayed.
Those taking the March 5 SAT won’t receive their scores until after the May exam is administered. This will delay test prep for students who take the March test, as they won’t be able to determine if they need to retake the exam until two months after sitting for it. There’s also the possibility that scores will be delayed even longer, as the College Board has struggled in the past year to deliver SAT and PSAT scores on time. A major overhaul of the test and a new scoring system can pose major problems to delivering student scores on time.
When you do receive your scores, make sure you know what they mean.
The new SAT will be scored on the old 1600-point scale – which many parents are already familiar with. For students used to the 2400-point scoring system, however, the adjustment to the new scale may leave many feeling confused. It’s important for students to understand the new scoring system and how their new SAT scores stack up. The SAT won’t release its concordance table comparing scores from SAT to the new SAT until June, which means that students will not have an accurate picture of how their new SAT scores align with admissions standards until early summer. For a look at how old SAT scores compare to ACT scores, check out our guide here.
Remember, whether you’re taking the new SAT or the current ACT this spring, don’t sit for either test unless you’re really prepared. Test prep is critical to reaching your goal score and improving your chances of admission to your top-choice college, so don’t take these tests lightly. If you need help getting started, here’s a good guide on how to create an effective test prep strategy.
Want more information on the changes to the SAT? Check out Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT: Part I and Part II.