Guide to New SAT Changes

“The changes to the SAT will distinguish it from any current admission exam. This will be the first admission exam that requires students to cite evidence in support of their understanding of texts in both reading and writing. There will be real-world applications of reading and math not only in science, but also in social science and career contexts involving both text and graphics. There is also the unprecedented commitment that on every exam students will encounter a text from the Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation they inspire. The level of focus in math is another significant advancement, allowing students to concentrate on fewer topics that are most essential for college and career success.”


By now, every teacher and administrator knows that the SAT is changing in March of 2016. However, few know how it is changing, why it is changing, or what their students must do to prepare for the changes. Below are eight recommendations to help students prepare for the New SAT.

Eight General Strategies for SAT Success

Strategy I: Don’t be intimidated. The New SAT content still boils down to Reading, Writing, and Math.  If there is some aspect of those you don’t know, you can learn it.

Strategy II: Simplify.  The vast majority of SAT questions are not tricky or convoluted; typically, the answer that makes the most sense is the correct answer. The art of answering questions correctly usually comes down to applying a formula for finding correct answers or eliminating incorrect ones. These are skills that can be learned. So feel confident eliminating “obviously wrong” or extreme answers. You do not have to be a grammarian, a mathematician, or a writer to be successful on the SAT.

Strategy III: Think like a test writer. The goal of test writers is to create items that have predictable results. For example, a particular answer to a question could be designed to attract 25% of test takers—those who predictably misread the question. Learn their strategies and you will automatically become a better test taker.

Strategy IV: Set Your Target Score.  For many students, setting a target score is a beneficial, even powerful strategy. But when you do, never sell yourself short. Set your sights high. Believe in yourself. Be confident in your ability to reach further upstream than you previously thought you could. Self-confidence—belief in yourself—is a critical factor in your success.

Strategy V: Fill in Ovals Swiftly.You can waste up to 12 minutes of precious time if you take five seconds to fill in each of the 142 ovals (11 math questions require filling in a grid rather than an oval). Take no more than two seconds to fill in an oval. Don’t listen when they tell you to fill in the oval completely! Neatness doesn’t count.

Strategy VI: Know your stuff. There is no substitute for knowledge.  So make sure you know as many math concepts, grammar concepts, close reading strategies and writing skills as possible.  Again, these are skills that can be learned.

Strategy VII: Find your X-Factor. You may see the SAT as a challenge to your intellect, as a gateway to college, or as a hurdle to overcome. You may see it as your friend or as your enemy. Any view of the test is acceptable, as long as you pick the one that best motivates you to succeed. One thing you must never do is to take the SAT for granted. If you in fact intend to be a better test-taker and are committed to becoming a better test-taker, you begin at the beginning and don’t look back until you have accomplished what you have set out to do.

Strategy VIII: Get Competitive. One of the primary factors in test-taking success is you. The ability to find your inner motivation is critical to your success. Why? Because motivated students find reasons and resources to succeed. Preparation can get you ready for the questions on the SAT, but may not fully prepare you for the experience of taking of the test. You need more. Suggestion: Come up a list of good reasons that you should work hard to achieve the highest possible scores. Here, at the motivational stage, you have a lot of company.

For more information or assistance, contact Chyten at 800-428-TEST (8378)