Changes: sat changes by Category

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Redesigned SAT

Starting with the March 2016 exam (US only) and the May 2016 exam, the SAT Reasoning Test will have a new, redesigned format. We have provided the below as guidance, but we highly suggest that you review the official information on the College Board (the organisation that administers the SAT) website to have a better understanding of what the changes will be.

Additionally, please confirm with the university you are applying to (if you are applying in autumn 2016 or beyond) which SAT score the university will accept. To the best of our knowledge many universities (for students graduating secondary school in 2017) will accept the old SAT score; though, NOT all, thus, it is important to check with the university. For students graduating secondary school in 2018, it is unclear as of yet how many universities will still accept the "old SAT" score versus the "new SAT" score. We strongly suggest that you check with each institution you are applying to.


SAT Changes by Category

Current SAT
(Available through January 2016)

(From May 30, 2016)


  • ¼ point deduction for wronganswers

  • Score out of 2400

    • Math: 800

    • Reading Comprehension: 800

    • Writing: 800

  • No penalty for wrong answers

  • Score is out of 1600

    • Math: 800

    • Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 800

    • Writing: 800

  • Subscores and cross-test scores added for greater insight*

  • Optional essay (scored separately)


  • 3 Critical Reading sections

  • 3 Math sections

    • 10-25 minutes each

  • 3 Writing Sections

    • 10-25 minutes each

    • Including 1 essay test (25 minutes)

  • 1 Experimental test

  • Multiple choice questions have 5 answer choices

  • 1 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Test

  • 65-minute Reading section

  • 35-minute Language & Writing section

  • 1 Math test

    • 55-minute section with calculator

    • 25-minute section without calculator

  • 1 Essay test (optional) - 50 minutes

  • 4 answer choices for multiple choice questions


  • 3 hours 45 minutes

  • 3 hours; 3 hours 50 minutes with optional essay



  • Focuses on a wide array of topics

  • More emphasis on computational skills

  • Calculators permitted for all sections

  • Multiple choice and grid-in questions

  • Concentrated focus on:

    • Problem-solving

    • Data Analysis

    • "The Heart of Algebra"

    • "Passport to Advanced Math"

    • Real-world problem solving accompanied by informational graphics

    • Calculator permitted for 37 questions

    • Calculator not permitted for 20 questions

    • Multiple choice and grid-in questions; 1 Item Set grid-in question

Reading and Writing

  • Critical Reading

    • Sentence Completions

    • Passage-based questions

    • Passage-based questions (100-150 words) and long (400-850 words) passages

  • Writing

  • Evidence-Based Reading

  • No Sentence Completions

  • Tests understanding of passages from U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Studies, and Sciences (500-750)

  • Writing and Language

  • Tests "Expression of Ideas" and "Standard English Conversations" through passages relating to Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, and Science

  • All questions pull from extended prose (400-450 words)


  • Essay is required

  • 25 minute time limit to draft a response

  • Quality of reasoning and accuracy of data not tested

  • Score combined with multiple-choice Writing section

  • Essay is optional and scored separately

  • 50 minute time limit to analyse a 650-750 word document and draft an essay

  • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills

  • Requires all students to analyse a source document and explain how the author builds and argument

  • Facts matter

*The current SAT does not provide scores for each section of the test. The new SAT will provide subscores for every section of the test, providing added insight for students, parents, admission officers, educators, and counsellors. For more information and details on content alignment and scoring please visit the College Board website. Information for this content was provided by College Board and Kaplan Test Prep

For further insight into the SAT changes, we suggest you have a look at this New York Times article. *While our advisors are thorough in our research and provide the information above as a helpful guide, we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies. Please confirm information about the SAT with College Board and the US university you are applying to.

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