Understand The New Format Of The SAT

New SAT Test Explained

The SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test was previously known as Scholastic Aptitude Test. Changes in the format and scoring of the old pattern were done in 2005 in order to align with the high school and college curricula. Although the new one has some significant changes from the old examination, they are not as drastic as they were made out to be by many. Some sections like the verbal and mathematics have been changed slightly for the latest test. A new section to assess the writing skills required in college has been added. The scoring too has been changed. Nothing else, however, is changed. The new version still assesses your skills and abilities on subject matter you may have learnt in high school. The scores still play an important role in the admission process. Last but not the least, you will still require a high score in order to maximize your chances for an admission in the college of your choice.

The New SAT Test Sections

It has three sections, namely, Mathematics, Critical Reading and Writing. The Verbal section of the old test has been replaced by the Critical Reading section in the new test. The Mathematics section will have a wider scope with questions covering more areas of the subject. A Writing section has been introduced in the latest version. Following is a detailed explanation of all the sections:

Critical Reading: Previously known as the Verbal section, the Critical Reading section consists of sentence completion questions and short and long reading passages.

  • Sentence Completion
  • Short Passages
  • Long Passages

The analogies asked in the Verbal section are not a part of the Critical section. The emphasis on vocabulary too has been reduced. This section tests your reading abilities for sentences, short paragraphs and long passages.

Mathematics: The Mathematics section contains questions on advanced algebra. Questions of quantitative comparisons have been removed from the new pattern. Other content that is tested is as follows:

  • Geometry
  • Basic Mathematics
  • Ratios, fractions

Writing: This is a completely new section of this test. This section is meant to test your writing abilities as well as grammar and has two sub-sections, the essay and multiple choice questions for grammar, usage and sentence correction.

Questions on the SAT

Almost all the questions on the latest test are multiple choice questions except for the essay and the grid-in Math responses. The multiple-choice questions have five options out of which there is only one correct option.

Critical Reading Section

  • Multiple choice questions on
    • Sentence Completion
    • Long and short passage


    • Grid –in questions
    • Multiple choice questions on
      • Basic mathematics, algebra, geometry


    • Essay
    • Multiple Choice questions
      • Grammar, usage, sentence corrections

SAT Scoring

All multiple choice questions carry the same number of points. For every correct answer, you gain a point. For very incorrect answer, you will lose a point. However, there is no penalty if a question is not answered. The student response grid – in questions of mathematics also do not carry any penalty. The essay is graded by two graders separately on a scale of 1 - 6. All scores are then converted to a scale of 200 - 800. The overall score that you will receive on the score report will contain the cumulative scores of all the sections. Alongside the scores of each section, you will see a figure called the percentile. A percentile tells you how you fared when compared to all the candidates who took the test.

The latest assessment is not all that different from the old in terms of questions. However, you have to adapt your preparation to be able to score well.