Many students and parents are confused about which test should be taken to apply for colleges, let alone the changes made to them. First, I want to just give a brief description on the difference between the SAT & ACT test. The ACT is an achievement test that measures what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities. Now let’s discuss some of the changes that have been made to the SAT and ill share which test I believe is better for the students based on my experience. I will list the four important changes below: It’s important not to spend your time worrying about how colleges will view your performance, you should work on improving your performance on the test regardless of your old score or test.
Here are the four big changes on the “SAT:”
1. The Writing Section
The biggest change on the new SAT, is the addition of an entirely new scored section on the test that covers grammar and English sentence construction. This section is titled the “Writing” section; you will receive a separate score for your performance in writing. It is scored on an 800-point scale and includes an objective component as well as a short writing assessment known as the “Essay Section.” In the past, SAT writing was a separate subject test structured very similarly to the current writing section. Now that the subject test has been integrated into SAT Reasoning, colleges will look to the Writing section to determine a student’s skill with the English language.
The SAT has become something of a marathon, and many students complain about “brain strain” after such a long test. The only way you can prepare for the length of the test is by practicing under the timing conditions that you will experience on test days. Most studies show that practice testing is the single most important factor in SAT preparation, you certainly do not want to be among the people who are not prepared! So, the best advice I can give you about handling the long time of testing is to practice for it.
3. Harder Math Section
The College Board decided that the math section on the SAT was a bit too easy as many students were scoring perfect scores, leading to test grade inflation. In turn, the College Board decided to make the SAT Mathematics section slightly harder, including topics from Algebra II and geometry. However, the changes were very minor, and actually, unlikely to severely affect the majority of students taking the test. Still, you should be familiar with topics up to Algebra II including factoring, simplification, and solving for roots of quadratics.
4. No More Analogies!
One of the big changes you should be pleased with is the decision to remove analogies from the SAT Critical Reading section. Analogies were questions that tested you both on your knowledge of vocabulary and your ability to logically compare the meanings of words. The College Board has replaced the analogies with sentence completion questions. Sentence Completion questions test a student’s knowledge of vocabulary in context, which is considered more appropriate of a student’s knowledge.
Finally, the difference in how they score the SAT & ACT I believe shows why more students rather take the ACT vs SAT. The SAT has a correction for guessing. That is, they take off for wrong answers. The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers, with no penalty for guessing. Based on my experience, students have a higher success taking the ACT rather than SAT; the changes included in this document goes into affect in 2016.