The Old SAT vs. The NEW SAT

As you may be aware, the SAT has been redesigned in 2016, starting with the March exam, and the changes can be seen throughout. We, at Dolphin Academic Prep, figured it would be helpful for parents and students alike to get to know these changes in order to help in preparing for the exam. The old SAT vs the new SAT can be best viewed in our comparison table showcasing the restructuring and enhancements made to the exam. We are here to answer your questions, so give us a call or send us an email to see how personalized SAT tutoring with a private Dolphin Academic Prep tutor can help benefit your student.

Structure Overview3 major sections: Math, Critical Reading and Writing2 major sections: Math and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing
Essay Section30-minute essayOptional: 50-minute essay
Structure Breakdown3 Critical Reading sections
• 20-25 minutes each

3 Math sections
• 20-25 minutes each

3 Writing sections
• 20-25 minutes each
• included 1 Essay

1 Experimental section
1 Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section
• 65-minute Reading portion
• 35-minute Language and Writing portion

1 Math section
• Calculator permitted: 55-minute portion
• No calculator permitted: 25-minute portion

1 Essay section (optional)
• 50 minutes
Question Options5 answer choices for multiple-choice questions4 answer choices for multiple-choice questions
Duration of Test3 hours and 45 minutes3 hours with an optional 50 minutes essay portion
ScoreScore of 200 to 800 for each of the three sections (Math, Critical Reading and Writing). The total SAT score is the sum of the scores for the three sections, with a maximum of 2400 points.

Subscore not available.
Score of 200 to 800 for each of the two sections (Math and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing). The total SAT score is the sum of the scores for the two sections, with a maximum of 1600 points.

Subscore and insight scores available.
Guessing Penalty1/4 penalty for wrong answersNo penalty for wrong answers
Math Section BreakdownFocus on wide range of topics

Calculators permitted for all sections

Greater emphasis on computational skills

Multiple-choice and grid-in questions
Focus on:
• "Heart of Algebra"
• Problem-solving and data analysis
• "Passport to Advanced Math"

Real-world problem solving accompanied by informational graphics

Calculators permitted for 37 questions and not for 20 questions

Multiple-choice and grid-in questions
Reading & Writing Section BreakdownCritical Reading section:
• Sentence completions
• Passage-based questions: short passages (100-150 words) and long passages (400-850 words)
Writing section:
• Combined score of writing multiple-choice questions and essay
Evidenced-Based Reading section:
• No sentence completions
• Tests understanding of passages from U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Studies, "Founding Document or Great Global Conversation" and Sciences (500-750 words)

Language and Writing section:
• All questions are pulled from extended prose (400-450 words)
• Tests "Expression of Ideas" and "Standard English Conventions" through passages relating to Careers, Social Studies, Humanities, and Science
Essay Section BreakdownEssay is required

Students have 25 minutes to draft a response to the prompt provided

Quality of accuracy and reasoning data not tested

Score combined with multiple-choice
Writing section
Essay is optional

Students have 50 minutes to analyze a 650-700 word document and draft a response

Tests reading analysis and writing skills; students required to analyze source document and explain how the author builds an argument

Facts matter

Scored separately
SAT VocabularyObscure and esoteric vocabularyWords will be more closely aligned with those used in college courses

More information

For information on the SAT Subject Tests or the PSAT/NMSQT, please click on it’s link to be directed to the exam’s page.

When is the SAT offered?

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