The old SAT versus the new SAT

What do you know about the new SAT?

I think the revisions were made because previously the SAT gave an advantage to those … with more money who could afford SAT classes and tutoring, and they don’t want students to need those kind of requirements so they’re trying to level the playing field.

—Hamza Nishtar ’18


What do you think about the new SAT?

I think the new SAT is going to be good for the years where they have books to actually prepare for it, but for current juniors it’s going to be really hard because there’s nothing to go off of to prepare for the essays or vocab. I think [it will] help a lot of students because I’ve heard they’re making it easier in order to compete with the ACT, which is really easy, so I think the optional essay and decreasing the difficulty of the problems and reading sections is going to be a pretty good change for people.

—Rahul Rai ’17


What do you think about the new SAT compared to the old SAT?

The SAT is trying to be more like the ACT. It’s trying to evaluate mastery in a more effective way … by making the test a little more straightforward. I definitely like the idea of them grading essays based on evidence so creating an analysis through writing. I also like the idea of them moving away from obscure vocab to words that are more commonly used.

—Sneha Pandey ’16


Do you think that the change in the exam is timely, and why?

It seems like the old SAT is archaic, especially the vocab, most [of which] I don’t use or plan on using in everyday life, or even in essays. Memorizing the vocab isn’t necessarily a good use of our time or an accurate reflection of our knowledge. Making the math more difficult is also a good shift, given that the standard of education has increased significantly in the past decade. Foreign students and immigrants seeking better education in America [ have] raised the bar for American-born students and for education. Schools have become more competitive, and I think it’s good that the SAT is being changed to reflect that shift.

—Alex Ju ’16


Does the new exam change student preparation?

The [partnership between the SAT and] Khan Academy is great because it sets a baseline for everyone to succeed. It gives a chance for students who can’t afford those really expensive tutors to still do well on the SATs and get into a good college. If it’s easier to just go online and study by yourself rather than paying a lot of money.

—Trevor Kosa ‘18


Are you taking the new SAT or the old SAT?

Annie: I’m taking the new one and I’m taking classes for it.

Alex: I’m taking the old one and I’m taking classes for the old one, but I might take the new one just for giggles!

—Annie Walker ’17 and Alex Bell ’17

Graphic: Hsihsin Liu

Graphic: Hsihsin Liu



Testing until January 2016

3 hours 45 minutes

Scoring: 600–2400


  • Critical Reading, 70 minutes
  • Variable (Unscored), 25 minutes
  • Writing (not including essay), 35 minutes
  • Math, 70 minutes
  • Essay, 25 minutes
    • broad questions


5 answer choices

Guessing penalty: -¼ raw score point



Comes out March 2016

3 hours (+50 minutes with essay)

Scoring 400–1600


  • Reading, 65 minutes
  • Writing and Language, 35 minutes
  • Math, 80 minutes
  • Essay, 50 minutes (optional)
    • analysis of passage

4 answer choices

No guessing penalty

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