1. It’s a lot more organized
Instead of randomly serving up Critical Reading, Math and Writing sections, the test is now more like the ACT, with each subject presented all at once in longer sections.
2. No more obscure vocabulary words
Instead of asking for definitions of seldom used, anachronistic words that only an erudite would know, the SAT has now replaced the vocabulary questions with ACT-style “meaning in context vocab questions.”
3. You’ll be asked to back up your answers
The new reading section includes 2-part GRE-style “evidence” questions, wherein you have to first answer a question about the passage and then pick the line of the passage that contains the evidence for your answer. Tip: make sure you are looking for the evidence for your answer and not the previous question. It’s a tricky business.
4. There’s no standalone writing section
Instead, the writing is folded into the writing-language test (part of the 800 point “evidence-based reading-writing” score).
5. The grammar and writing section is now passage-based.
The new writing-language test resembles the ACT English section to an almost embarrassing extent. This means long passages with questions about underlined portions throughout. It means more punctuation and structure questions.
6. The Math got more wordy
The math is getting more convoluted. They are trying to make the math section more grounded in “real-world problems,” but from what we can tell, this just means adding two sentences to each problem to give the pretext of a physical situation. If you’re going to ask about a function, you don’t have to first give an introduction explaining that the function models the production of fizzy widgets in the Roebuck county. But the new SAT feels differently, so many problems are longer than they need be.
7. And covers more topics
There is basic trigonometry and statistics on the math, which some students don’t learn until senior year (if at all). While the math may not have gotten harder exactly, the broader nature of the section makes it tougher for some.
8. And you can’t use your calculator on part of it…
Yep, that’s right, a no-calculator section has appeared! Mental math is making a come back, so start trying to remember long division sooner than later.
9. The essay is graduate level
The new SAT essay is now document-based and resembles the analyzing-an-argument essay of the GRE, the graduate school exam, and the AP English test. Essentially students are given a passage and have 50 minutes to write an essay that explores how the author of the passage uses literary tools to convey their point, story, intention to the reader.
10. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of the ACT, GRE, Common Core standards and old SAT.
If you need help handling this new monstrosity, check out Khan Academy’s free online resources or find yourself an amazing SAT tutor at Smartalec.com. Then again, you could always just take the ACT like most students last year…