What's New on the Redesigned SAT?

In March 2016, the College Board will switch to a new, redesigned version of the SAT in an effort to more closely align the test with the knowledge and skills that are essential for college and career readiness. Here's what you can expect to see on the updated exam:

Scoring & Other Major Changes

  • The SAT is now divided into four tests: Reading, Writing and Language, Math, and the optional Essay.
  • Composite scores are derived from results on the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests.
  • The maximum composite score is 1600 instead of 2400.
  • The total length of the SAT is 3 hours and 50 minutes – or 3 hours without the optional essay.
  • There is no deduction for incorrect answers.
  • Multiple-choice questions now have 4 answer choices each instead of 5.


  • The Essay is now optional, though some colleges and universities will require it.
  • You will not be asked to write about your personal experience or share your opinions about a specific issue. 
  • Instead of making a persuasive argument yourself, you will be asked to analyze a source document and the techniques its author uses to persuade readers.
  • You will receive essay scores in three different categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing.
  • The time allotted for the Essay is now 50 minutes instead of 25 minutes.
  • Essay scores will be reported separately from the composite score.


  • All questions on the Reading Test are multiple-choice and based on passages including U.S. founding documents, important speeches and writings from around the world, and texts from science and literature.
  • All "fill-in-the-blank" sentence-completion questions have been eliminated.
  • Some reading passages will be accompanied by informational graphics and charts.
  • Vocabulary-in-context questions focus on common words and phrases.

Writing and Language

  • All questions on the Writing and Language Test are multiple-choice and based on passages. 
  • Stand-alone sentences testing grammar have been eliminated.
  • You will be asked to correct grammatical errors, create smooth transitions, order passages logically, and create consistent tone. 


  • Higher-level math including trigonometry and pre-calculus will be included.
  • Some questions will test your ability to solve math problems in real-world contexts, such as science and social studies.
  • Calculators will be allowed only in the longer of the two Math sections.

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