A guide to the SAT: Its Past, Present, and how to help make it a bright part of your Future.


Practice, Practice, Practice!

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, most commonly known as the SAT, has a huge impact on the lives of students today.  First created and assessed in 1926, the SAT is offered to juniors & seniors in high school as a way to test verbal and reasoning abilities. Over the years, this test has seen many changes in its format, scoring, and the number of students that choose to take it.

These changes occurred once in 2005, and are now taking place again as of March 2016.

However news of this now reconstructed test is something many have heard, but know very little about. So what exactly is the new SAT?

Originally based off of a 1600, the SAT tested students’ skills through both Math, which consisted of Arithmetic, Algebra 1, and Geometry, as well as Reading Comprehension. Each section was scored off a scale of 200-800 and overall, the average student receiving a 1050. It was then, after a whole 53 years, that the College Board sought change.

For years, colleges had been asking students to submit writing samples along with their applications, so the SAT decided to address this request, and a new SAT was released in 2005. The changes made were quite significant: the math section included Algebra 2, the reading section contained more passages and analysis questions, and along with these two was a new writing section. The writing portion of the test had students defining Latin vocabulary, improving sentences/paragraphs, identifying sentence errors, and most importantly, writing essays. Also, it was scored off of a 2400 and the average score was a 1520.

Over the years, this test became notorious for its difficulty and time-consuming intensity. Students were having trouble coping with the material and more importantly, the time it took to prepare for such a tedious test. This left them with no option but to revert to taking the ACT, a sister test to the SAT. The ACT covers similar concepts, (although no vocabulary, the essays are optional, and there is a science section) and presents them in a way that makes it much easier on the students. Its popularity increasingly soared throughout the country, and continues to do so today. In fact, “The SAT had recently been losing significant amounts of money to the ACT,” says insider source, “leaving the makers no choice but to re-design this standardized test and its infamous qualities into something that nearly mirrors what the ACT has to offer”.

So as of March 2016, students all around the country will be exposed to a new kind of SAT. The format consists of 4 tests: Reading, Writing, Math, and an Essay. A more detailed breakdown of each section is displayed in the chart below:


Time Allotted


Number of Questions/Tasks







Essay (optional) 







180 (230 with essay)

154 (155 with essay)


The test will be scored off a scale of 400-1600, a total sum of the two separate scores calculated from the Reading/Writing section, Math section, and Essay portion (if the student wishes to write one).

The 8 Key Changes made to the test are as followed:

Relevant Words in Context Instead of testing students on advanced words and phrases in a limited context, they will be expected to interpret words and phrases from the reading passages, relevant to almost every day use. The test will be constructed as such that if something is unknown to the test-taker, the reading passage containing the word or phrase will provide important clues to its meaning, hence relevant words ‘in context’.

Command of Evidence Throughout the reading section, the student will be asked to interpret the text in way that they can understand which parts are relevant to the question being asked. Upon doing so, the next question that follows will often times be an evidence-based question, asking which quote from the passage (provided as short quotations & in line notations) supports the student’s answer to the previous question.

Essay Analysis Students are usually required to build an argument with their essay and prove a strong point, but this optional assessment is now just the opposite. There will be a passage that is provided in which the student must analyze the author’s argument and point of view, ultimately creating an essay that explains how the argument is built and used to persuade an audience.

Focus on Math that Matters The math section of the test is divided into three areas:

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • Heart of Algebra
  • Passport to Advanced Math (complex equations, etc.)

Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts In terms of the Reading section, there will be literary, non-fiction passages and readings that include graphics (data tables, graphs, etc.) one could possibly encounter in a science or social study course in the future. On the Writing section, it will be required to edit texts on career, history/social study, humanity, and science related topics. Lastly, the Math section will call for a greater level of analysis. These are application problems that can only be solved through a sequence of steps.

History/Social Studies & Science Although it may not be explicitly marked on the test, there will be a greater focus on history/social studies and science on every section of the test. Reading passages will be historically/scientifically based, and the writing/math sections will contain content of historical/scientific context.

Use of U.S. Founding Documents and the Great Global Convention The Reading portion of the test will include one passage from a U.S. Founding Document or the Great Global Convention of which students will be asked to analyze the author’s main point, literary techniques, and diction.

No Penalty for Wrong Answers Previously, students received one point for every answer they marked correctly and lost ¼ of a point for every answer marked incorrectly. This penalty has been eliminated, and the students will now only be graded on the total number of questions marked right.



With this in mind, it is important that students fill in every question with an answer, even if they have to guess, for it will not affect their score if they get it wrong.


Students can prepare for the test with help of many reliable programs, these being:

Cram Crew

More Info!


More Info!

C2 Education

More Info!

Khan Academy.com

More Info!


Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see how well students can deliver upon facing the new material this coming Spring.

All the best for a new test!! 🙂