• The essay is going to be new and it’ll be optional.That means the exam will be three hours and 50 minutes with the essay (or three hours without it). The essay prompt will focus on a reading passage and, although the passages will be different on each exam, you’ll always have the same essay prompts. The CollegeBoard website gives the following essay prompt example draft: “As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses
• evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
• reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
• stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.” While you won’t be required to take the SAT with the essay, you will want to if any of the schools you’re applying to require or recommend it. Find out the policies of specific schools here.
• You’ll no longer get penalized for guessing incorrectly.The new SAT format will allow you to earn points for answering questions correctly – not lose points for any incorrect answers. That means that from March 2016 and forward, it will be in your best interest to guess on questions you don’t know the answer to. You never know, you may guess correctly and leaving the question blank won’t help your score one bit.
• Vocabulary words are now “Relevant Words in Context”The ambiguous words the SAT used to feature (which gave most students quite a hard time – not to mention, headache) are gone! After March 2016, all of the vocabulary on the exam will be words you’ll encounter in college, within the workplace and through adulthood. This includes questions about figuring out the meaning of words in context – they’ll be questions on words that are used throughout subjects that are more commonly used. Check out examples of the new type of vocabulary and questions.
What will stay the same?• The SAT will still be accepted by most U.S. colleges
• Typically, juniors will take the exam in the spring (which means the changes will impact current high school juniors) and seniors will take the SAT in the fall.