The countdown is on: What really matters for the March SAT

For the past year students, educators, and parents have been wondering what will happen when the redesigned SAT is introduced in March 2016. March is finally just around the corner and students’ questions and concerns are now a reality. Unfortunately, there will be one class of students who will essentially serve as guinea pigs to see how the new test is will work and help the College Board produce a new “average” score. This is likely extremely overwhelming for students applying to college and can produce more anxiety than is necessary. There are a few things students should consider to find out what truly matters for this new SAT.


1. Scoring Guidelines

Many students have mentioned their concern over the new scoring guidelines. As of January 2016 a perfect score on the SAT is 2400. In March, a perfect score will be 1600. So will colleges think that a student didn’t do as well because they can now only score 1600? Absolutely not. Up until 2005, the top score was 1600 and colleges have been used to judging students on the scale for decades. Students should not concern themselves with the new scoring guidelines in general but rather think about where they will fit as compared to their peers.

2. Obscure Vocabulary

Do you know what an iconoclast is? Perhaps not, but I bet you are familiar with the words rebel and critic. Students of generations past have spent hours upon hours flipping through flash card of overly complicated words that they perhaps will never use again.  Although some vocabulary words on the exam where useful and used in academia and in life, most of them belong to a category dubbed “SAT words”. On the new SAT students won’t have to spend quite so much time memorizing words but they will still need to learn words in context. This is a good news/bad news situation for many students. The good news is that the obscure vocabulary is a thing of the past. The bad news is that students who think they get a free pass to skip vocab study will probably have quite a surprise on test day. Learning vocabulary in context is complicated and important and deserves plenty of attention (READ: “8 SAT Essay Tips from a Private Irvine SAT Tutor”).

3. Guessing

This is one of the coolest changes of the redesigned SAT. How many times did students sit down with their tutor and try and figure out exactly when they should guess on a question and when they should skip it? What if they can eliminate two answers? What if they have it down to two but they’re just not sure? This took up a lot of time during test prep and a lot of time on the actual test. Starting in March students will be able to go ahead and take a guess if they’re unsure of an answer. This is really good news for students who often just barely picked the wrong answers and became very frustrated. Now that students won’t be penalized for guessing it’s important that they adjust their test prep study to align with this new strategy.

4. The essay is optional so I don’t have to do it, right?

On the Redesigned SAT the essay will be optional and separate from the writing section. Students across the country are now jumping for joy thinking they don’t have to practice writing or spend any time on it on exam day. Just because something is optional on the SAT doesn’t mean that universities count it as optional. Before students skip over their essay prep it’s essential they research the websites of any and all colleges they wish to apply to and see if the essay is required for admission (READ: “5 Awesome SAT Apps”).

5. So does this mean the new SAT is easier?

Many students think that perhaps the new SAT will be easier. Although for some, this may be the case, for most it will still be extremely challenging. Students will still be tested on their math and English skills, they will still need to focus their concentration for several hours, they will still need to know vocabulary, mathematical formulas, and be able to analyze text quickly and effectively.  Additionally, students taking the essay portion will need to be able to thoroughly analyze a passage and respond to it with thought and depth. The Redesigned SAT is no joke and students are encouraged to prep as far in advance as possible. In fact, students taking the exam in March should probably have already commenced their studies.

It’s never too early to book your Irvine Private SAT Tutor. Call us today for more information.

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