SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

New SAT vs Old SAT: Changes You Must Know

Posted by Dr. Fred Zhang | Jul 1, 2014 6:21:00 PM

SAT Logistics, New SAT


new-sat.jpgThe new SAT (2016) is changing drastically from the old SAT.  In terms of content, no other SAT changes in the past few decades have been this dramatic.  If you're familiar with the old SAT, here's what you must know to understand and do well on the new SAT.

I'll summarize the largest must-know changes below, but for those of you who are serious about the new SAT, it will be well worth your time to read some of our in-depth guides to the new SAT.  After all, a few minutes of reading through our expert guides on the new SAT is nothing compared to the sweet payoff of a high score on the new SAT and acceptance to the colleges of your dreams!

New SAT Study Guide -- This guide starts with a very detailed comparison of the new SAT versus the old SAT and then goes on to flesh out a full study plan for the New SAT.  We also have section guides for New SAT vocabulary and New SAT Reading Section.  Also don't miss our famous Allen Cheng's In-Depth New SAT vs Old SAT comparison here.

Class of 2017: New SAT vs Old SAT -- Is it worth it for the class of 2017 to try the old SAT?

New SAT Scoring: What's a good score on the New SAT?

Fast Summary: The Main Differences

The major differences are highlighted in yellow.

  Old SAT New SAT
When can you take it? January 2016 or Before March 2016 or After
Which classes can use it for college? High School Class of 2016, 2017 Class of 2017, 2018+
Lowest and Highest Score Possible 600-2400 400-1600
Median Score (a satisfactory score) 1500 1000
75th Percentile Score (a good score) 1720 1150
25th Percentile Score (a bad score) 1270 850
Time 3 hour 45 minutes 3 hours 50 minutes
Sections Reading, Writing (Mandatory Essay), Math Reading and Writing (together), Math, Optional Essay
Guessing Penalty 1/4 point off for wrong answers No guessing penalty (but this doesn't matter much)
Format Pencil and Paper Only Pencil and Paper OR Computer
Math Change Highlights Geometry and shapes Data interpretation and graphs
Reading Change Highlights Memorizing vocab, sentence completion Evidence support, data reasoning
Writing Change Highlights Individual sentences and grammatical rules Passage-based questions. 
Essay Changes 25 minutes, answer to a theoretical prompt 50 minutes, analyze another essay


The One-Sentence Summary of New SAT vs Old SAT

For those of you who are interested in a summary of big-picture changes: The New SAT will be a lot more like the ACT in that it will test school skills more and rely on "testing tricks" less.

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Dr. Fred Zhang
About the Author

Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.

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