SAT - Eight Key Changes


Relevant Words in Context

Read more about relevant words in context, and view a sample question here.

The redesigned SAT will focus on relevant words, the meanings of which depend on how they’re used. Students will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear. This is demanding but rewarding work. These are words that students will use throughout their lives — in high school, college, and beyond. Requiring students to master relevant vocabulary will change the way they prepare for the exam. No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down. The redesigned SAT will engage students in close reading and honor the best work of the classroom

Essay Analyzing a Source

Read more about Essay Analyzing a Source, and view a sample question here.

The focus of the Essay section on the redesigned SAT will be very different from the essay on the current SAT. Students will read a passage and explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience. Students may analyze aspects of the passage such as the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and stylistic and persuasive elements. This task more closely mirrors college writing assignments. The new Essay section is designed to support high school students and teachers as they cultivate close reading, careful analysis, and clear writing. It will promote the practice of reading a wide variety of arguments and analyzing how authors do their work as writers.

The essay prompt will be shared in advance and remain consistent. Only the source material (passage) will change. The Essay will be a required component of the SAT for the Michigan Juniors who’ll take the test in spring of 2016.

Focus on Math that Matters Most

Learn more about the Math Test here.

Math that Matters Most The new SAT test will focus in depth on three essential areas of math: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math. Problem Solving and Data Analysis is about being quantitatively literate. It includes using ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning to solve problems in science, social science, and career contexts. The Heart of Algebra focuses on the mastery of linear equations and systems, which help students develop key powers of abstraction. Passport to Advanced Math focuses on students' familiarity with more complex equations and the manipulation they require.

Current research shows that these areas most contribute to readiness for college and career training. They’re used extensively in a wide range of majors and careers. In addition to these areas, the SAT and PSAT-related assessments will include questions on other topics in math, including the kinds of geometric and trigonometric skills that are most relevant to college and careers.

Command of Evidence

When students take the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections of the exams and the Essay section of the redesigned SAT, they’ll be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources. These sources include informational graphics, such as tables, charts, and graphs, as well as multiparagraph passages in the areas of literature and literary nonfiction, the humanities, science, history, and social studies, and on topics about work and careers.

For every passage or pair of passages students read on the Reading Test, at least one question asks them to decide which part of the text best supports the answer to the previous question. In other cases, students will be asked to integrate the information conveyed through words and graphics in order to find the best answer to a question.

Questions on the Writing and Language Test will also focus on command of evidence. Students will be asked, for example, to analyze sequences of sentences or paragraphs to make sure they are logical. In other questions, students will be asked to interpret graphics and to edit a portion of the accompanying passage so that it clearly and accurately conveys the information in the graphics. The

SAT Essay will also require students to demonstrate command of evidence. Students will analyze a provided source text to determine how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience through the use of evidence, reasoning, and/or stylistic and persuasive devices. They will be asked to write a cogent and clear analysis supported by critical reasoning and evidence drawn from the source.


Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts

Read more about problems grounded in real-world contexts, and view a sample question.

Throughout the redesigned SAT, students will engage with questions grounded in the real world, questions directly related to the work performed in college and career. In the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, reading questions will include literature and literary nonfiction, but also feature charts, graphs, and passages like the ones students are likely to encounter in science, social science, and other majors and careers. Students will be asked to do more than correct errors; they’ll edit and revise to improve texts from the humanities, history, social science, and career contexts.

The Math section will feature multi-step applications to solve problems in science, social science, career scenarios, and other real-life contexts. Students will be presented with a scenario and then asked several questions about it. This allows students to dig into a situation and think about it, then model it mathematically.

Analysis in Science and in History/Social Science

When students take the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and SAT assessments, they will be asked to apply their reading, writing, language, and math knowledge and skills to answer questions in science, history, and social studies contexts. In this way, the assessments will call on the same sorts of knowledge and skills that students will use in college, in their jobs, and throughout their lives to make sense of recent discoveries, political developments, global events, and health and environmental issues.

Students will encounter challenging texts and informational graphics that pertain to the aforementioned issues and topics in the EvidenceBased Reading and Writing section and the Math section. Questions will require them to read and comprehend texts, revise texts to be consistent with data presented in graphics, synthesize information presented through texts and graphics, and solve problems grounded in science and social science contexts.

Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation

The U.S. founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers, have helped to inspire a conversation that continues to this day about the nature of civic life. Authors, speakers, and thinkers from the United States and around the world, including Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Nelson Mandela, and Mohandas Gandhi, have broadened and deepened the conversation around such vital matters as freedom, justice, and human dignity. Every time students take a College Board assessment, they will encounter a passage from a text from this global conversation. In this way, the assessments will inspire a close reading of these rich, meaningful, often profound texts, not only as a way to develop valuable college and career readiness skills but also as an opportunity to reflect on and deeply engage with issues and concerns central to informed citizenship.

No Penalty for Wrong Answers

The College Board Assessments will not deduct points for incorrect answers. Students will earn points for the questions they answer correctly. This move to rights-only scoring encourages students to give the best answer they have to every question

This Information is compiled from the SAT Corner in MDE's "Spotlight"