The Revised SAT Evidence-Based Reading (that’s a mouthful) will include five(ish) passages: one Literature based passage, two History/Social Studies passages, and two Science passages. Similar to some passages on the current SAT, one of the passages in the Science and/or Social Studies fields may be replaced with a pairing of shorter, related passages, and both topics will include one or two related graphics that a few questions will refer back to. All in all, you’ll have 65 minutes to do fifty-two passage-based questions and ZERO sentence completion problems. There will still be vocabulary-based questions in the passages, but they’ll focus more on your ability to define a word in the context of the passage. Additionally, a new type of question will test your command of evidence.
Hold up! That sounds like a pretty major overhaul!
Actually, it really isn’t too different. Yes, formatting-wise the test will look different, but, at the end of the day, it will quiz you over the same skills and abilities that the current version does. If you’ve been studying for the current test, for example, you should be looking in the passage for evidence already, so a question that asks, “what part of the passage provides evidence for the previous question?” will hopefully be a no-brainer! And don’t let the addition of graphics intimidate you; remember, this is a test where all the information you need is actually given to you—graphics are just one more way to present information. I mean, let’s face it, for some of that science mumbo-jumbo, the graphic might be super helpful!
That brings me to a final point about the new exam: what exactly is the point of having specific subjects for the reading a writing passages? The Revised SAT will now also include some “across-test scores” that inform a college specifically how well you did in the questions relating to each topic. How exactly colleges will interpret or use those scores is up in the air and will probably depend on the school. Again, remember, this test is also new for colleges, so they’ll need a couple of years worth of data to find out what kinds of scores are comparable to what they’re looking for on the current version of the test.
One last thing, the easiest way to prepare for this portion of the SAT—other than studying with Test Masters, of course—hasn’t changed: READ! You don’t even have to read canonical classics that make you want to gag (although, if they’re assigned for class, you should probably try); the more you read, the more you build the skills to comprehend, analyze, and synthesize texts. So, find what you like, and get to reading!