Your Guide to The New SAT: Timing, Content, Scoring, and Tip

Now, it’s all about college and career readiness. In order to be successful in college, the SAT measures skills deemed “must-haves.” How does this work? What are the biggest changes? For the new SAT, we’ve put together this guide to answer your questions. 

Timing on the New SAT

SAT timing for the new version is 3 hours (plus another 50 minutes for the essay test), compared to 3 hours and 45 minutes for the current version. Reading (65 minutes), writing and language (35 minutes), and math (80 minutes) are included.

New SAT Content

Essays are no longer required. It is true that the esoteric, arcane, incomprehensible, and perplexing vocabulary section is history.

  • Dance a happy dance
  • What is on the test? Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the three Rs.

SAT Reading and Writing Guide

There are two parts to the “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing” section of the test.

You begin with a reading test, which consists of 52 questions in 65 minutes. The questions are based on passages, charts, diagrams, or tables. The U.S. founding document (such as the U.S. Constitution) will always be cited, along with a passage from classical or contemporary literature.

Additionally, you will encounter two selections, one from the social sciences (e.g., economics, psychology, or sociology), and one from the hard sciences (e.g., Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics).  

The second part is a writing and language test consisting of 44 questions in 35 minutes. Questions in this section are also based on passages that look very similar to those in the reading section. How do they differ? That’s what the questions ask. Test writers say you will succeed in this part of the test if you can edit a paper. You need to be able to read, find errors, and fix them. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

Math on the New SAT

Math will be the last section of the SAT for those who do not wish to take the essay component. You have 80 minutes to answer 58 questions, but here’s where things get interesting.

In the math section, most questions are multiple-choice, but 22% are grid-in answers. Therefore, you need to bubble in the answer you came up with. Instead of a, b, c, and d answers, you should write “2.5” in the boxes and bubble the “2”, “.”, and “5”.  

The math test also has two parts. In one, you can use your calculator, in the other, you cannot. They include what SAT has dubbed the “Heart of Algebra” (linear equations and systems), “Problem Solving and Data Analysis”, which is a little more straightforward, and “Passport to Advanced Math” (manipulating complex equations).

The New SAT Essay

The SAT essay is the last but not the least. You may have heard that this portion is no longer required. You can either take the essay or skip it altogether. If you choose to take the essay section, you’ll have to spend another 50 minutes on the test.

The next section consists of another passage that needs to be read. Then you will be asked to breakdown the passage and explain how the author has constructed their argument using evidence from the text. The premise is almost identical to one of the essays required for the GRE. You should remember how you prepared for and performed on this section if you plan to attend graduate school in the future.  

Scoring the New SAT

New SATs do not deduct points for incorrect answers, which is one of the most important changes. Guessing is not penalized. Fill in all the bubbles! The importance of this cannot be overstated.

For Pete’s sake, don’t go back and fill in bubbles for another section after the time has been called.

Tips for Tackling the New SAT

The College Board is pretty proud of the changes they’ve made to the SAT. It should also excite students. This exam will be more streamlined and will focus on real-world situations and academic skills.

The new SAT will be administered on March 5. Use the right test prep materials when you are studying. Make sure you don’t study for the old version of the test! Check out College Board’s website and stay tuned for our post on 5 Online SAT test prep resources!

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