Friday, December 24, 2010

The new(ish) SAT

The SAT was significantly altered in 2005 and is different from the test many of us fondly remember from our own high school experience. A new section has been added and the perfect 1600 point score is now a perfect 2400 point score.

There are three parts to the test broken into 10 sections: three math sections, three reading comprehension sections, two grammar sections, an essay and an (ungraded) experimental section used to test questions for future tests. The test is longer with these changes. The total testing time is three hours and 45 minutes.

Analogies were removed. The 'verbal' portion of the test now only contains sentence completions (a sentence with one or two missing words) and reading comprehension (a very short to fairly short passage followed by questions about the reading).

The math section changed little, but it does now contain questions up through algebra 2.

A 'writing' section was added. Basically the College Board canabalized the SAT II Writing test (even more formerly known as the Achievements) and pasted it onto the SAT. This portion of the test consists of a 25 minute essay on a prompt which is provided and multiple choice grammar questions. The essay and grammar sections combine for a third 800 point score component.

So that's the 'new' test. One other important change occurred last year. Students now have the option of 'Score Choice' and should take advantage of it. Score choice allows the student to hold back their scores from schools. The ACT has long offered this option and now the SAT has followed suit. What this means is that schools the student applies to will only see the scores when a student releases them. It takes a bit of the pressure off and allows students to hold back a score if they test better on one occasion than on another.

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