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March 2016 marks a new era in SAT testing. The test underwent radical 

changes in format, content, grading, and philosophy. A valid concern 

parents and students have is whether the test is better or worse.
Format Changes

The test has a totally revamped format:

Subject 

 Questions 

Time 

Special Info

Reading 

52 

65 minutes 

4 single passages & 1 passage pair

Writing & 

44 

35 minutes 

4 passages 

Language
Math 

20 

25 minutes 

Multiple-Choice & Grid-In Questions

No Calculator
Math 

38 

55 minutes 

Multiple-Choice & Grid-In Questions

Calculator
Essay 

50 minutes 

Optional

All SAT multiple choice questions contain 4 answer choices. Since  

the Essay is optional, it appears at the end of the test. Students read a 

literary work and write a critique of that work.
Content Change

Reading no longer includes seldom-used words, but focuses on relevant  

words, phrases, and context. Sentence Completion questions are 

removed, with the Reading Section containing only passages. Writing 

& Language focuses on grammar, punctuation, and clear-concise word 

choice. This section is structured similarly to ACT English (Best Sentence 

Phrasing, Sentence Error Identification, and Best Paragraph Phrasing  

totally removed). Math emphasizes content students learn in school, 

rather than their ability to reason out the answer. However, students 

must know critical math fundamentals to ace the ‘No Calculator’ section.

Grading Changes

Test grading schemes changed significantly. Reading and Writing & 

Language Sections are combined for one score:  200–800. The two 

Math Sections are combined for one score:  200–800. Therefore,  

students receive an overall score between 400 and 1,600. The essay 

score is reported separately, consisting of independent reading,  

analysis, and writing scores. These three scores are not combined  

with one another, nor are they combined with the subject scores.
Philosophy Changes

To promote students’ best efforts, points are no longer deducted for 

incorrect answers. Students should attempt to answer all questions.
Verdict and Recommendations

The SAT is a significantly improved test. Tricky questions and baffling 

vocabulary are removed. Reading and Math are more straight-forward.  

Grammar and punctuation are relevant to improved writing skills.  

Parents should strongly consider enrolling their students in SAT Prep 

courses. Combining test improvements with directed training, students 

can achieve amazing results on the Redesigned SAT.

The Redesigned S.A.T.

by Chris Millett, MS

Pearland resident Chris Millett taught Computer 

Science at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. 

He is currently the founder, President and CEO 

of the Science, Math, and Technology Center of 

Excellence (SMATCOE). You can contact Chris  

at 281-529-6241 or via www.smatcoe.com.

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