There’s been a lot of talk in the test prep world about the redesigned SAT and how much it’s turning into the ACT test. Here’s a SAT guide that will help you understand the test and how it impacts your child’s college application process.

How is the New SAT Structured?

The new SAT test is a three-hour affair (3 hours and 50 minutes if you choose to do the optional essay) testing a student’s understanding of and ability in reading, writing and language, and math with a total of 154 questions.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

SAT Reading Section: 65 minutes for 52 questions

    • Focused on assessment of students’ comprehension and reasoning skills
    • Items contributing to subscores:
      • Words in context
      • Command in evidence
      • Analysis in history/social sciences
      • Analysis in science
      • Passage contents:
        • U.S. and World literature: 1 passage, 10 questions
        • History/Social Studies: 2 passages or 1 passage and 1 pair of passages. 10-11 questions each.
        • Science: 2 passages or 1 passage and 1 pair of passages. 10-11 questions each.
        • 2 passages will include one or two graphics (tables, graphs, charts, etc.)

SAT Writing and language Section: 35 minutes, 44 questions

      • Focused on assessment of students’ revising and editing skills
        • Items contributing to subscores:
          • Expression of ideas
          • Standard English conventions
          • Words in context
          • Command of evidence
          • Analysis in history/social studies
          • Analysis in science
      • Passage contents:
        • Careers: 1 passage, 11 questions.
        • History/Social Studies: 1 passage, 11 questions.
        • Humanities: 1 passage, 11 questions.
        • Science: 1 passage, 11 questions
        • 1 or more graphics in 1 or more sets of questions
      • Text Types:
        • Argument: 1-2 passages
        • Informative/Explanatory: 1-2 passages
        • Nonfiction Narrative: 1 passage

SAT Math Section

Calculator section: 38 questions, 55 minutes

      • 30 multiple choice, 8 grid-in responses
      • Heart of Algebra: 11 questions
      • Problem Solving and Data Analysis: 17 questions
      • Passport to Advanced Math: 7 questions
      • Additional Topics in Math: 3 questions

No calculator section: 20 questions, 25 minutes

      • 15 multiple choice, 5 grid-in responses.
      • Heart of Algebra: 8 questions
      • Passport to Advanced Math: 9 question
      • Additional Topics in Math: 3 questions

SAT Essay Section (optional)

      • Given at the end of the test
      • 50 minutes to write it
      • Focused on assessment of students’ skill in developing a cogent and clear written analysis of a provided source text
      • Score will be based on:
        • Reading: comprehension of text, understanding of ideas, and use of textual evidence.
        • Analysis: Analysis of text, evaluation of author’s use of evidence and reasoning, support for claims made in the response.
        • Writing: Use of central claim, use of varied sentence structure, command of conventions of standard written English.

How is this different from the old SAT Exam?

      • No point deduction for wrong answers. Guess away!
      • Only two sections (+essay) compared to three sections (+essay)
      • Essay is about analyzing a passage rather than answering a question and having to remember examples.
      • Score is out of 1600 rather than 2400
      • Less focus on difficult vocabulary words

Why is the SAT Important?

If taking the SAT was something students did just for kicks, it would no longer exist, let alone have 1.6 million annual test takers. Standardized tests exist for a reason. For students, the SAT provides an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by demonstrating intellectual fit with a particular institution. For institutions of learning, tests like the SAT provide admission officers a common measure to evaluate students.

And the data shows just how much value admis