Is the New SAT Easier Than the Old SAT?

As many of you know, the SAT underwent a huge redo in March of 2016. The College Board changed a number of aspects of the exam, including the formatting, content, and timing. However, is the new SAT easier than the old SAT? In many ways, it is.

A question mark cut out laying on top of a journal.

How the New SAT is Easier

No More Subject Jumping

In prior editions of the multiple-choice section of the SAT, the different subjects jumbled together. You may have one small section focus on math, the next reading, and then back to math. It required you to shift your mindset from subject to subject, which may have hurt a few test-takers, especially those who had issues with time management. The new SAT has dedicated sections for each subject, so you can focus on one area at a time.

No More Obscure Vocabulary Words

Vocabulary words that weren’t extremely common in daily use were also a major part of the previous SAT, and one many students worried about. The SAT presented vocab without context. It was difficult if it was a word you had never come across prior and students had to memorize hundreds of new words just for the SAT. The new version of the test uses more common words that are still challenging, but also allows you to see each word in context.

The Essay is Now Optional

In addition to the subjects being put into more organized sections, the essay is now an optional part of the new SAT. In prior test versions, the essay portion was mandatory. It also supplied students with very little time to complete the section (only 25 minutes!). If you choose to take the essay on your SAT, you will have 50 minutes to complete it, and you’ll have to pay a bit more to take it.

The Writing Section Is Easier to Understand

The issues students had in the writing section was similar to the problems that arose with the isolated vocabulary words of the old SAT. The sentences had no context and students would also get stuck on confusing grammatical problems. On the new SAT, the section incorporates reading and skills you actually learned during high school courses.

There’s No Penalty for Wrong Answers

Unlike the old SAT, the new SAT doesn’t deduct points for wrong answers. That means that you won’t be penalized for guessing. Make sure you don’t leave any answers blank before you have to move onto the next section!

Why It May Still Be Difficult For You

Timing Changes

Although many aspects of the new SAT are much easier for a number of test-takers, there may be parts that students still struggle with. One of these would definitely be time management. This is especially true on the reading portion which has 67 questions and only 70 minutes to answer them all.

If you find you’re struggling with time management, make sure to incorporate it into your practice sessions. Time yourself during practice tests and see which sections you tend to run out of time. You can learn how long each question takes you and exactly what questions you’re struggling with. If you discover you’re spending too long on a particular question, skip it and move on to the next.

In many ways, the new SAT is much easier than the older version. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study and be prepared! While the format may be better for some students, the questions are still designed to test your ability and skills in each particular subject. Make sure you are ready to tackle it all on exam day.

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