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Are you ready for the new 2016 SAT?

The SAT is a standardized test that college admissions offices use to rank incoming students. College bound high school juniors and seniors take the SAT as part of the college application process. The current SAT changed form with the March, 2016 test. Are you ready?

You can think of the SAT as a game. In order to play the game well, you need to know the structure of the game. Here is a quick review of the upcoming changes in the SAT.

Beneficial changes: The wrong answer penalty has been removed, the essay is now optional, vocabulary is tested in context, and two sections, critical reading and writing, have been combined into one evidence based reading/writing section.

Challenging changes: Math now includes algebra I & II, geometry, and trigonometry, and one math test is completed without the calculator.

Reading/writing section: Passages from literature, social science, science and history are presented with graphs and tables that support the reading. Students must answer questions that interpret both the reading and graphs. I find the new format helpful in that the questions require active reading, so students will be less likely to zone out. This section also requires more sophisticated proofreading skills. In addition to correcting for punctuation and grammar, students will now choose phrases to strengthen the writer’s argument. Critical reading, good writing, and proofreading skills can all be strengthened with practice.

Math section: The math test seems more difficult. The questions are complex, multi-step questions that require careful reading. A strong foundation in functions, exponents, graphing, logic, radicals, geometry, quadratic function, vertex form, problem solving, and data analysis is required. Practicing the math questions and learning what is being asked will strengthen scores. The no calculator math test sounds scary, but I found the math easy to calculate.

To do well on the SAT, learn what to expect and practice, practice, practice. I recommend purchasing the Princeton Review 2017 SAT for hands on practice and/or one on one SAT tutoring with me.

Shawna Huggins, M.A., has been tutoring students on the SAT for over fifteen years. You can contact Shawna through her website at

For free printable practice tests go to You can also find helpful links at,, and

Additional information:

  • The SAT now has two sections (math, evidence based reading/writing combined) instead of three (math, reading, writing).

  • Essay is now optional

  • The wrong answer penalty (subtract ¼ point) is eliminated

  • Time: Was 3 hours 45 minutes. Is now 3 hours (add fifty minutes if you’re doing optional essay)

  • Total score was 2400 (Reading 800, Writing 800, Math 800) now it is 1600 (Reading/writing 800, Math 800).

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