People are freaking out about this huge SAT change

There’s a new SAT test and, compared to the old one, it’s pretty wordy.

To put it simply, the revised exam is made for advanced readers, for those who are prepared to read on a college level. What exactly does this mean, you ask? For the most part, it means that longer, more difficult reading passages will be included – and they will also replace the short-form questions that had students identify grammar errors or make sentence corrections.


Essentially, the new test focuses more on rhetorical skills and less on grammar rules, according to tutoring service Applerouth.

The math section will also be the site of several changes. Word problems are going to become wordier, meaning that test takers now have to sort through a verbose passage of background info to get to the actual problem. According to The New York Times, this is one such problem student Serena Walker encountered during a practice SAT quiz:

“An anthropologist studies a woman’s femur that was uncovered in Madagascar.” Walker knew that a femur is a leg bone, but “anthropologist” tripped her up. She then decided to focus entirely on the algebraic equation that appeared in the passage: h= 60 + 2.5f, with h referring to height and f designating the femur’s length.

Walker concluded, “I feel like they put in a lot of unnecessary words.”


However, College Board (the SAT’s creator) says that the reading section’s number of words has remained about the same: 3,300 on the old exam and 3,250 on the new one. They also claim that both tests (new and old) have the same percentage of math word problems: around 30%. College Board’s chief of assessment Cyndie Schmeiser states,


Experts and analysts disagree because longer reading passages (from sources like Moby Dick and John Locke’s political writings) containing advanced words aren’t going to be easy for students who have trouble reading. Moreover, students who speak a different language at home are also going to struggle, along with low-income families who may not be able to afford test prep materials or tutoring.  

Overall, it seems that one piece of advice would definitely help out future SAT test takers: (Try To) Keep Calm & Read On.


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