What to Know About the Updated SAT Suite of Assessments

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The SAT, a standardized test commonly used as a measure for college admissions, has undergone many changes since its inception in 1926. Its most recent update has been its transformation to the SAT Suite of Assessments, which includes four tests that span middle and high school. Regardless of your grade level, and if you’ve already taken an older version of the exam, here’s what you need to know about the updated SAT Suite of Assessments:

New tests in the SAT Suite of Assessments

In addition to the already established SAT and PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), the Suite now includes the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10. As their names suggest, the PSAT 8/9 is intended to be taken in the fall or spring of eighth and ninth grade – as a foundation for college readiness – and the PSAT 10 can be taken in the spring of tenth grade, a check-in point along the continuum of student learning. The PSAT/NMSQT and SAT have been revised as well, with the latter as the anchor of the suite. The Suite of Assessments prioritizes the tracking of student progress over time, so that both teachers and students can identify areas of improvement and work on them.  

Content changes

The redesigned SAT will no longer require essay writing, as it did very recently; instead it will offer the essay as an optional component some colleges may ask of their applicants. The four tests will have a Reading Test, a Writing and Language Test, and a Math Test, all of which are closely aligned. An important change to note is there’s greater emphasis on words in context, instead of obscure or archaic vocabulary for which the SAT has been famously known. Other key content changes focus on student command of evidence, analyzing a source, essential areas of math, real-world contexts, analysis in science and social studies, and close readings of U.S. founding documents and engagement in global conversation.

Revised scoring system

Instead of losing a quarter point for each incorrect answer, students will no longer be penalized for guessing. In addition, all four tests will use a common score scale so that growth in certain skills can be easily tracked across assessments. As an added bonus, this scale will include more scores (subscores and cross-test scores), so students will have better information about how they are performing on the test. Lastly, in this new system, the SAT will revert back to a 1600 point scale from 2400.

Knowing what to expect with the updated SAT Suite of Assessments is the first step toward comprehensive preparation. Watch out as the new and redesigned tests roll out in September 2015 (PSAT 8/9), October 2015 (PSAT/NMSQT), February 2016 (PSAT 10), and March 2016 (SAT). While most colleges are planning on accepting scores from old and new versions of the SAT, if you’re in the current college application cycle, you may want to check with the specific college, as well as any updates from The College Board itself.