Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT

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Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT

In only a few months, the College Board will introduce the redesigned 2016 SAT. The Class of 2017 still has the option of taking the current version of the SAT (provided they can take the test before March 2016). But current high school freshman and sophomores can expect to take the redesigned test. Though much has been said about the advantages and disadvantages of the redesigned SAT, the truth is that each student will have a different experience.

Below, we’ve outlined the key differences between the current SAT and the redesigned SAT. If you’re taking the redesigned SAT and trying to get a jump on studying, make sure you note the content differences and similarities between the current SAT and the redesigned SAT. Some sections are very similar, while others have been completely revamped.





Math (out of 800 points)

  • 20 minute math section (with calculator)
  • 25-minute math section (with calculator)
  • 25-minute math section (with calculator)

Critical Reading (out of 800 points)

  • 20-minute reading section
  • 25-minute reading section
  • 25 minute reading section

Writing (out of 800 points)

  • 25-minute writing section
  • 10-minute writing section
  • 25-minute essay (required)



Math (out of 800 points)

  • 55-minute math section (with calculator)
  • 25-minute math section (without calculator)

Evidence-based Reading and Writing (out of 800 points)

  • 65-minute reading section
  • 35-minute writing and language section

Essay (out of 24 points)

  • 50-minute essay (optional)


Total Score Range 600-2400 400-1600, and a separate essay score between 6 and 24.
Section Score Range 200-800 200-800
Total Score Range 600-2400 400-1600, and a separate essay score between 6 and 24.
Essay Scoring

2 reviewers give you a score between 1-6. Your scores from each reviewer are added together for a total score of 2-12 points.

2 reviewers give a score between 1-4 on three different measurements (reading, analysis, and writing) for a total of 3-12 points.  Your scores from each reviewer are added together for a total of 6-24 points.

Cross-test Scores? None.

Select questions in the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math sections will be used to gauge your ability to analyze social studies and science materials. You’ll be given a score between 10-40 for Analysis in History/Social Studies and a score between 10-40 for Analysis in Science.


None. You receive a score out of 800 for each section.

Your score will be broken down into 7 subscores: Reading and Writing and Language: Command of Evidence and Words in Context. Writing and Language: Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions. Math: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. Each of these will be worth between 1-15 points.

Score Breakdown

College see your scores out of 800 for each of the three sections.

Colleges will see your score out of 800 for each section, as well as your sub-scores and cross-test scores.

Length 3 hours and 45 minutes 3 hours and 50 minutes, including the optional 50-minute essay
Multiple Choice Format 5 answer choices for each multiple choice question 4 answer choices for each multiple choice question
Wrong Answer Penalty “Guessing penalty” of 0.25 points for every incorrect answer and no penalty for leaving a question blank No penalty for incorrect answers or leaving a question blank
Future Dates Administered  12/5/15 and 1/23/16 3/5/16, 5/7/16, 6/4/16, etc.



  • The redesigned SAT will return to the 1600-point scale. The reading and writing sections will be rolled into a single section. This is good news for those of us who are stronger in math, since half of the score (not counting the optional essay) will now be derived from math questions.
  • While the current SAT has alternating content no longer than 25 minutes, the new SAT consolidates all content types (Reading, Math, and Writing) into 4 sections that are close to an hour each. All of the multiple choice questions will now have 4 choices rather than 5, which is good news for guessers (and those of you with difficulty making choices).




Section Name Math Math
Score 200-800 200-800
Time Allotted  70 minutes  70 minutes
Question Types  Mostly multiple choice, with “Student-Produced Response” questions where you’re expected to write the numerical answer in a blank space  Mostly multiple choice, with some “Student Produced Response” questions
Summary Diverse range of high-school level math Focus on problem-solving and data analysis. The new SAT will also include trigonometry and imaginary numbers.



  • The redesigned SAT will put more emphasis on “real-world” problem-solving and interpreting data. The SAT will still cover algebra, geometry, and some parts of trigonometry, and some of the questions will look exactly as they would in the 2015 SAT.
  • You will no longer be allowed a calculator on some of the math questions.




Section Name Reading Evidence-based Reading and Writing
Score 200-800 200-800
Time Allotted 90 minutes 95 minutes
Question Types Multiple choice Multiple choice
Summary Passage-based questions that test your reading comprehension on passages that range from 150 to 850 words, while sentence completion questions test your vocabulary skills by asking you to choose the word that best fits the given sentence.


Evidence-based Reading questions tests your understanding of 500-750-word passages from literature, social studies, and the sciences.

Writing and Language questions tests “expression of ideas” and your knowledge of standard English conventions. The test will not include sentence completion or vocabulary-focused questions.


  • The new Reading section will use more relevant “real-world” passages that connect to other subjects. The average passage will be longer and more detailed as well.
  • Though vocab is still an important tool for understanding passages and answering questions, the redesigned SAT won’t feature questions that solely test your vocabulary.



Section Name Writing  Essay
Score 200-800 6-24 (optional and scored separately)
Time Allotted 50 minutes 50 minutes
Question Types Multiple choice and a handwritten essay Essay format
Summary Multiple choice questions which ask users to identify sentence errors and improve sentences. Students are also asked to write a 25-minute essay. Students are asked to write a 50-minute essay.
Essay Focus Make an argument Analyze an argument
Example Essay Prompt “Do intentions matter, or should people be judged only according to the results of their actions? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue.”

“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 elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.”

Essay Rubric Essay scored out of 12 based on your ability to develop a point of view, support your position, and write effectively. The score out of 12 is built into your writing score out of 800.

Essay scored on

(1) understanding of the original passage

(2) effectively analysis of the passage

(3) command of written English.

Each of these is worth a maximum of 8 points, for a total of 24 points.



  • The redesigned SAT essay will be scored separately instead of wrapped into the writing section. Though the essay is optional, some schools may still require an essay score.
  • The structure of the essay has changed completely. Instead of writing an opinion essay on a broad ethical or philosophical question, you’ll be asked to provide a comprehensive analysis of a short passage.
  • The scoring rubric places a greater emphasis on analytical ability. You can read more here.



Keep in mind that universities are fully aware that the SAT is in a period of transition, and they’ll take that into account when assessing student scores. Your SAT score is weighted against other parts of your application, like GPA and personal statements.

Some students will find the redesigned SAT easier, while others will have to work a little harder. The new test is also similar to the ACT, which students have been taking for years. College Board has also chosen to align the test more closely with Common Core educational standards, which are already used in many U.S. high schools. The new SAT is designed to test more “real world” skills, so if you live in the real world then you’re off to an excellent start.

There will be plenty of resources available to familiarize yourself with the new SAT format, including Prep4SAT. At the moment, our stellar content team is hard at work developing new questions and study tools for the redesigned SAT. If you’re planning on taking the new SAT, sign up to make sure you’re one of the first people to know when we update the app with the redesigned SAT content.


  1. Seth Bassetti says:

    Will the mobile app be updated to reflect the changes to the SAT and if so do you have an estimate as to when that change is coming?

    • LTG Exam Team says:

      Hey Seth,

      Prep4SAT will be updated to cover all the content and question types on the new SAT. This new app will be coming out the start of February 2016 in time for the first new SAT exam, which is slated for March 5th 2016.

      Hope this helps!

      You can sign up to be notified exactly when the new Prep4SAT app is released by clicking the link in the article above.


      The LTG team