A 30-something explores the new SAT

A 30-something explores the new SAT

I don’t recommend taking the SAT during nap time because the test is waaaay longer than that nap. As I raced downstairs holding my baby, I thought, “God, I hope I can finish the math section in time.”


I want to start providing SAT test prep as part of my tutoring services. To do so, I need to reacquaint myself with the test I took over, ahem, 20 years ago. I’ve been studying and taking some practice quizzes the last few weeks, so I went all in and took a full-length TIMED practice test on Saturday. How hard could it be? After all, I did well on the SAT in high school and I’ve since completed college and graduate school. (Oh, how cute I was on Saturday!)


For those of you who, like me, took the exam a while ago, there have been some changes.

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The New SAT


The maker of the SAT, the College Board, redesigned the test in 2016 for the first time since 2005. Long gone are the analogies (thank you!) and random vocabulary words. The College Board says the new SAT is more focused on the skills you use in high school and college. Expect less memorization and more critical thinking.  Two changes that most anyone can appreciate – the new test is 50 minutes shorter and there is no longer a penalty for guessing!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Expect less memorization and more critical thinking on the new SAT” quote=”Expect less memorization and more critical thinking on the new SAT”]


There are 2 main sections – reading/ writing and math. The reading sub-section asks you to read both fiction and nonfiction passages and answer high-level comprehension questions. The writing sub-section focuses on grammar and editing.


The math section contains algebra, geometry, statistics, and other math used in science courses.  Additionally, students can take an optional essay. (The essay was required on the old SAT.) The perfect score, you ask? After a 10-year flirtation at 2400 (thanks to that now optional essay), it’s back to 1600.


My Impressions of the New SAT

My first impressions: this test is hard. The reading passages, especially the nonfiction, are at a high reading level. Many juniors are going to struggle with the language alone. The writing questions were VERY nit picky. I edit student papers all. the. time. and I struggled to figure out the correct answer.


And then there was the math section. Beyond basic algebra and geometry (How much paint to I need to cover the walls in this room?) I don’t use much math in my day-to-day life. And the SAT definitely goes beyond basic algebra. Trig anyone? There were a number of questions I simply guessed on because I had no clue how to even approach the problem. Yikes. However, high schoolers are currently taking a math course and will probably fare better than I did.


In the middle of the math sub-section, my daughter woke up. Uh oh. The practice test was online and timed. Additionally, I knew my math score was in trouble. My husband handled the feeding, but due to his bum knee, I needed to bring her downstairs. I have never run up and down those stairs so fast! After dumping her on the floor, I raced back to the computer.


So, was the SAT  a piece of cake? Um, no. My practice test score was lower than my SAT score in high school. Yes, lower. Sigh. That math score pulled me down. On the positive side, I can improve my math score through practice. Lots of practice. It’s not my ideal score…yet. #growthmindset

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What do you think of the new format? Let me know in the comments below! 

Related Posts: How to Prep for the SAT on the CheapHow to Take Control of your Test Anxiety

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