Students Adjust to New SAT Format

Sample SAT reading question.

By Kamilla Lymarenko ’17, Abeer Naeem ’17, Jillian Geist ’17, Franchesca Gumabon ’17, and Diana Danh ’17

Everyone has been talking about the new SAT. Some say it’s much easier while others think it’s beyond difficult, and they don’t even want to take it.

“I don’t like the new SAT format, and for me personally, I think I’ll do better on the old version,” said Susan Mordukhayeva 17.

The SAT itself costs $54.50, but starting in 2016, School Chancellor Carmen Farina announced the SAT will be made free for all high school juniors to take in school.

Students can register for the test

The new SAT is composed of a 65 minute reading section where students have to read passages and answer questions regarding what they had just read. Questions now correspond with one another; the answer to one question relates to the answer of the question after. Next comes the 35 minute writing and language section where you correct passages. After that there is a 25 minute no calculator math section, and a 55 minute calculator math section. This is much different than the 20-25 minute sections we are all used to.

     Another difference is that for the new SAT the essay is optional rather than mandatory. For the old SAT there would be a 1/4 penalty for guessing but now there is no penalty, if it’s wrong or blank it counts for the same point loss. The new SAT features more advanced material than the old SAT, there are reading questions that force students to elaborate and there is some pre calculus in the math sections. The old SAT is out of 2400 while the new one is only out of 1600.

    Tugce Icil ’16 said “I studied so much for the old one and I still thought it was challenging for me, I’m just glad I got it over with and I don’t have to take the new one.”

   The new SAT will be administered for the first time in March  2016 so the last possible time to take the current SAT is January 2016. Many students are jumping at the last chance to take the old SAT because that’s what they’ve been studying for while others are taking their time and studying for the new SAT.

Yu Liang ’17 chose not to take the old SAT format and instead is deciding to take the new SAT format in March or May.

“I’m a bit nervous, because I’m not a great test taker and just the thought of taking a single test that can determine your academic future sends shivers down my spine,” she said. “And I’m really unsure the grade I’m gonna get, but whatever it is I just hope it’s enough for my parent’s approval.”

To prepare for this stressful exam, many students may choose to either attend a prep center or self study by relying on numerous prep books. Mr. Albert Peterson has previously taught SAT prep and believes students should look at the exam to get used to the question types and know the directions beforehand which can save an ample amount of time during the real SAT.

Daniel Mirkin ’17 said, “I recommend books known for their excellence in test preparation such as Kaplan, Princeton, and Barron’s.” However Mirkin ’17 strongly advises his peers to invest in a college board bound SAT prep book since it includes the official guidelines to the test and is written by those who make the actual SAT.

Mr. Peterson also has a word of advice to those who are struggling to prepare for the exam.

“Nowadays, more sample SATs are available for free and these resources should be taken advantage of by the students,” said Mr. Peterson.

However, Mr. Peterson thinks that studying can only do so much for an individual since these basic skills are embedded from years of learning. Most students can increase their score by a few 100 points, but must apply themselves diligently throughout the grueling test preparation process.

“I overcame my weaknesses by practicing the same question types because, as corny as it sounds, practice does make perfect, especially when we’re talking about these standardized tests,” said Zenab Jamil ’17.

Mr. Peterson also stresses the importance of keeping your body healthy in time for the test. This is a crucial part that many students tend to overlook and can negatively affect their performance on the day of the exam.

“Get enough sleep; eat right, maintain an overall healthy diet, and make sure to get a good night’s rest” are key tips that Mr. Peterson stresses to all students taking the exam. All students should heed this advice so they are well rested and ready to conquer SAT on the test day.

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