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Getting Ready for the New SAT

Posted December 16, 2015 in Insights & Research

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The new 2016 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) will launch on March 5, bringing with it a new format, focus and question types. LearningExpress is developing new prep resources for test takers that are aligned with new test specifications and are robust enough to prepare students for the updated SAT. Learn more about what students can expect to see on the new SAT as well as what goes on during the test preparation resource development process.

It’s no secret that students’ results on standardized tests can impact their futures, especially for high school students taking the SAT and looking ahead to college. There’s always some anxiety involved with standardized testing, but taking the SAT — especially with the new test launching on March 5 — is particularly stressful, as nearly all four-year colleges and universities require, or at least consider, SAT (or ACT) scores when making admissions and merit scholarship decisions. Here’s what you need to know to help students navigate the changes.

What’s so different about the new test?

Since the new test’s format and content are significantly different, old test tricks like memorizing vocabulary definitions and study habits like cramming won’t cut it anymore. Here are the new sections students will see on the new SAT, and some key takeaways:

1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section: This new section combines the old test’s Critical Reading and Writing test scores, and includes questions that deal with evidence support and data reasoning. This total score is weighted equally to the math section.

  • Reading Test: Students will need to demonstrate more sophisticated logic and reasoning skills to understand complex arguments and context.
  • Writing and Language Test: Students will answer passage-based questions requiring higher-level writing and logic skills.

2. Math Section: Students will encounter both multiple-choice and grid-in questions, many of which are multi-step problems.
3. Essay Section (optional): Students will be able to choose whether or not to complete the essay, and will now have 50 minutes instead of 25 to read the provided source text carefully and critically analyze the author’s argument.

Among other changes, scoring will once again be out of 1600, with the essay section scored out of an additional 800, and students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers — scores will instead be based on right answers.

So what does this mean for schools and parents? The big challenge will be equipping students with a strong academic foundation and familiarity with the new test. This is where LearningExpress can help.

What SAT test prep resources is LearningExpress offering?

LearningExpress will release new and enhanced tutorials, e-books and practice tests starting in January 2016, all of which meet the new test specifications provided by the College Board. These resources are the result of a rigorous development process conducted by a LearningExpress team of subject matter experts and writers, using the “test blueprint” to ensure that the knowledge and skills tested, question formats and score reporting categories all match the actual test.

Here’s a teaser of what to expect from LearningExpress resources:

  1. Extensive skills practice for each test section
  2. Instant scoring, with diagnostic reports to identify strengths and weaknesses, and practice resource recommendations
  3. Detailed answer explanations
  4. A simulated test mode that mimics the actual test-taking experience

Using instructional design best practices, we’re also introducing a guided learning path to support students throughout the entire study process, which is especially helpful for those who may not know where to start. Each step walks students through registering for the test, understanding what is covered and executing a study plan. Our comprehensive tools will serve as a one-stop center for all things SAT.

There may always be anxiety associated with taking tests, but students can prepare for the SAT and reduce exam stress with LearningExpress test preparation resources. Regardless of a student’s access to test preparation classes or private tutors, LearningExpress equips students with meaningful practice and resources to produce positive results. Stay tuned for more news on the 2016 SAT!

We’d love to hear from you! What do you think of the changes to the SAT?

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