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Format Of the New SAT

  • The SAT is now scored out of 1600
  • The Reading and Writing sections on the current SAT have been combined into a single section in the new SAT, with a maximum score of 800. Writing is now known as "Writing and Language."
  • The Math section is still scored out of 800
  • The Essay is optional and has changed dramatically
  • Instead of 5 answer choices for each question, there will be only 4. This doesn't necessarily make the test easier since the SAT will just remove the most unlikely answer.
  • The Writing and Language Section of the 2016 SAT
  • The New SAT Essay for the Redesigned SAT
  • Tips for the 2016 SAT Essay
  • The Math Section in the Redesigned SAT 2016
  • The SAT structure
  • Tips for the New Math Section
  • Points To Remember

The Writing and Language Section of the 2016 SAT

  • This is the new name for the current Writing section. It still tests grammar and writing logic. It's combined with the Reading section for a total of 800 points.
  • All questions are now passage-based instead of individual questions.
  • The subject matter of all 4 passages is predetermined.

Greater emphasis on:Logic and expression of ideas, higher-level writing skills, punctuation rules.

Lesser emphasis on:Grammatical rules tested in isolation, “Gotcha” questions like faulty modifiers, subject/verb agreement.

The New SAT Essay for the Redesigned SAT

  • The essay is now 50 minutes long instead of 25 minutes.
  • It gives a passage written by an author who is taking a stance on an issue. The student's job is to analyze how the author builds the argument.
  • The essay is scored on a scale of 2-8 on each of Reading, Analysis, and Writing. This is not combined with the Reading and Writing section score of 800.

Greater emphasis on:analyzing an argument; understanding how evidence and rhetorical devices contribute to an argument.

Lesser emphasis on:answering a theoretical prompt; coming up with your own evidence to support your thesis.

Tips for the 2016 SAT Essay

Despite the change in format, this is still a very predictable and trainable section. Analyze the following types of logic to build your essay:

  • Evidence:Understand how the author uses data and facts to support the main argument. Understand different types of data - research numbers, surveys of people, statements from authority figures - and why the author cites these examples.
  • Reasoning to develop ideas:Analyze how the author draws inferences from data and extrapolates from data to build larger arguments.
  • Stylistic or persuasive elementsPoint out specific rhetorical devices that strengthen the argument and connect the author to the reader. Common examples are word choice, hyperbole, figurative language, rhetorical questions, and emotional appeals - devices that you've probably learned in school.

The Math Section in the Redesigned SAT 2016

  • Out of all sections, Math has changed the least. The skills tested have shifted, but the format is almost the same.
  • There are now multi-step problems that ask the student to take multiple mathematical steps.
  • There is one section that bans the calculator. This doesn't change the difficulty, since these problems are inappropriate for calculators anyway.
  • Basic trigonometry is now on the test, but there are very few questions that test this.

Greater emphasis on:data interpretation and graphs; algebra and solving equations; realistic scenarios as prompts for questions.

Lesser emphasis on:geometry and shapes (like triangles and circles); abstract logic questions

The SAT structure

Sections Component Time Allotted (min.) Number of Questions/Tasks
1 Reading 65 52
2 Writing and Language 35 44
3 Math (No Calculator) 25 20 (5 Grid-in)
4 Math (Calculator) 55 38 (8 Grid-in)
5 Essay (optional) 50 1
Total 180 (230 with Essay) 154 (155 with Essay)

The SAT structure

  • As against to the old SAT guidelines, there is no negative marking or wrong-answer penalty
  • Too much time is often taken up answering specific questions, especially, in the Critical Reading section, which results in loss of valuable time to attempt other questions. Also, the critical reading section now does not asks for sentence completions.
  • There are only 4 answer choices per question in the New SAT test format
  • Only a portion of questions focus on in-depth analysis of content and evidence
  • SAT is available in print and digitally

Tips for the New Math Section

  • Overall, the new SAT will test more difficult concepts but with more straightforward presentations. There will be fewer tricky questions and more emphasis on understanding what a long scenario question is asking for and how to get to the answer.
  • The critical focus should be on identifying your weak points and drilling those skills. If you're weak in algebra, you need to do a lot of algebra problems.
  • Don't be worried by the no-calculator section. You'll always be able to solve these questions in a straightforward way, and often a calculator will actually slow you down.


  • You can appear for SAT in the months of January, May, June, October, November and December.
  • The test is generally conducted on the first Saturday of the month (except in the month of January, when it is usually held on the last Saturday).
  • Students have 3 hours (3 hours 50 minutes with optional essay) to take the SAT, not including breaks and check-in time.
  • After appearing the SAT, students may cancel their score up until the Wednesday after they have taken the exam.
  • The best time to take the SAT is in class 11, or at the outset of class 12, with at least six to eight months before the board exams commence.
  • SAT scores are valid for five years.
  • Students can take the test more than once to see if they can score better but they should only do so if they are confident that they would ameliorate. Two to three times is the maximum recommended number of attempts.
  • The essay question asks students to analyze a 650-700 word document and explain how the author builds an argument. Students need not have previous knowledge of any particular subject to successfully answer the essay question as the test focuses on the reading, writing, and analysis skills of the test-takers.
  • There is no definition of a 'good' SAT score. Generally speaking, scoring close to the mean (average) - about 500 on critical reading and writing and 500 on mathematics - shows that a student has scored as well as about half of the other students who have taken the test.
  • Each college has its own way of using test scores and evaluating applicants. The SAT score reports sent to colleges include score ranges and percentiles that provide some context for how well a student has performed in the test