You may have heard that College Board is redesigning the SAT for 2016. You may also have heard that they’re “dumbing it down” or making it easier. The main reason for this impression seems to be that College Board is getting rid of the Sentence Completion questions, aka the “vocab” questions. While students might think they can rejoice at not having to study long lists of vocabulary words any more, any celebration on this front would be premature. In fact, overall, the redesigned SAT will probably be harder than the current one. Here are 5 More Ways the New SAT is Actually Harder.
1) More grid-ins.
On the new SAT, there will be 11 grid-in (or student produced response) questions, which is more than the SAT currently has. Grid-ins are trickier than multiple choice, because it is much more difficult to guess on them. Also, certain strategies like plugging in the answers cannot be used on grid-ins. Even a small increase in the number of grid-ins could impact your score.
2) More word problems.
The new SAT math section will have a new focus on real world calculations and applications, which means there are going to be more word problems. Because word problems contain more text to read and decipher, they are often more time consuming than normal math problems. Having more word problems thus means that time will likely be more of an issue on the math section.
3) The essay also has a long passage now.
The new essay will now have a reading component, and will likely resemble an AP-style DBQ (document based question) essay. AP exams (which are also created by College Board) are meant to test college level abilities, so an AP-style grading system is likely to be harder than the one used for the current SAT. The passage will make a persuasive argument and will likely be similar to the types of passages on the reading section – so it probably won’t be too easy. Effectively comprehending, citing, and analyzing the passage will be integral to the essay, so this adds just one more challenge to the test.
4) The essay is longer.
Instead of having 25 minutes to write the essay, students will have 55 minutes. This might seem good, since students will have more time to compose their thoughts. However, this may not be the case. Part of that time will be used reading the passage that the student must analyze, and it is quite likely that College Board will expect students to write longer essays. Coming up with two pages on the current SAT is hard enough. If the new SAT gives you twice as much time but expects twice as much writing, then it may be twice as hard.
5) Can’t make stuff up.
The current SAT essay infamously does not assign grades according to the factual accuracy of an essay’s content. This means that if you can’t remember some details of an example you want to use to support your argument, you can just make them up. The new SAT essay is analytical, rather than persuasive, which means you won’t be able to just make up examples to support your argument. The new essay task is more sophisticated and requires more higher level thinking skills, which means it’s going to be harder.
So much for the “dumbing down” theory. If you will be taking the new SAT, then you’ve got some work to do! But don’t worry – even if the new SAT is harder, like all standardized tests it will still be coachable, and the experts at Test Masters will be ready to show you the new strategies you will need to succeed. As College Board has finally acknowledged, test prep really does make a difference, so rest assured: practice makes perfect. Until test day, keep up the good work, and good luck!