College Board Makes Changes to the SAT

The redesigned SAT is being released for the first time in March of 2016. Some changes taking place include an optional essay, a new grading scale and no penalties for guessing on questions. (Photo courtesy of

The most well-known test among high schoolers is morphing into something “highly relevant to your future success” according to The SAT is regarded as something that grades how well one tests and not one’s overall knowledge. The test makers are trying to change the test’s makeup to change the belief that the scores do not define intelligence. The first testing of the revised test will be in March of 2016.

The updated test is designed to focus on high school knowledge and the skills needed to succeed in college. Instead of studying by cramming unfeasible vocabulary, the test-makers say one can prepare by taking challenging courses, completing homework, preparing for classroom tests and quizzes, and by asking and answering numerous questions in class. This means preparation for the test can be day-to-day instead of having to take classes or study the infamous SAT prep books.

One of the main changes taking place includes making the writing essay optional. The redesigned SAT Essay asks the test taker to read a passage and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience. Scores are graded on the clarity of the writer’s argument and how well textual evidence is used. The downside of the optional essay is that some colleges will require it to apply to the school. The test taker should go in on testing day knowing if the colleges they are interested in require the essay or not.

A new grading scale is also being implemented. The scale will now go from 400-1600 instead of the normal 2400. Only two sections will be graded– one for Math and one for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. These sections are on a scale of 200-800. The essay is scored separately and is not included in the section scores.

Other changes made include having five answer options for each question instead of four, no penalties for guessing on questions, and no vocabulary words that you will never use outside the test.

For current seniors, most will probably not be signing up to take the new version due to its release date. By March, a majority of seniors will know their plans for the future, but for other students, the new test is highly anticipated.

“The new SAT seems like it’s easier than the old SAT. I am definitely waiting to take the new one,“ said Jordan Brady, a junior.

College Board’s website supplies sample questions for students interested in the new layout to help them get a feel for the types of questions on the test.

The deadline to sign up for the first testing of the new SAT is February 23, 2016.


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