Last Updated On: December 15th, 2015

The new SAT will start in March 2016. This test will include more real world problems that relate to what you have learned in high school and what you will apply in college. There is no longer a penalty for wrong answers. Also, the total score will again be out of 1600, instead of 2400.

With all of these changes, what should you focus on studying? Here are three key areas to master for the new 2016 SAT.

1. Analysis and interpretation

In both the mandatory Reading section and the optional Essay section of the new 2016 SAT, you will need to analyze a passage and interpret various areas, including what the author wrote and how they wrote it. For example, here is the prompt for the new Essay:

As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Similarly, in the Reading section, you will be asked to evaluate assumptions, identify supports for claims, and draw inferences from the material. Use the information provided in the passages to help your find the best answer choice for each question.

2. Assessing words in context

The SAT will no longer require you to have knowledge of a bunch of esoteric vocabulary words or to figure out how they relate to each other. Now, questions involving the meaning of a word will be found mainly in the Reading section, and you can use the information provided before and after the word in the passage to help you find the correct answer.

Let’s look at a practice question from the Reading section of the new 2016 SAT []:

47 The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of
48 jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger
49 cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond
50 the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their
51 promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.

As used in line 47, “intense” most nearly means

A) emotional.
B) concentrated.
C) brilliant.
D) determined.

Start by locating the word “intense” in line 47. Then look at how the word functions in the sentence:

The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions.

The word “intense” is used as an adjective describing the clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity.

Before selecting an answer choice, come up with your own synonym for intense. Then cross out the answer choices that don’t work.

Defining the clustering as “emotional,” “brilliant,” or “determined” would not make sense in the context of the passage. So, for this question, the best answer choice is B) concentrated.

3. Math without a calculator

The new SAT includes a section called Math Test – No Calculator. This means you will need to hone your addition, subtraction, multiplication, and long division skills on paper. The Math sections on the new 2016 SAT also encompass the following areas as listed by the College Board: Heart of algebra, Problem solving and data analysis, Passport to advanced mathematics, and Additional topics in math, including geometry and trigonometry.

Let’s look at a practice Passport to advanced math question from the College Board website []. No calculator allowed!

If a2 + 14a = 51 and a > 0, what is the value of a + 7 ?

This is a grid-in question, so you must provide your own answer. Here is one way to solve the problem.

Start with the first equation: a2 + 14a = 51

Move the 51 to the left side of the equation: a2 + 14a – 51 = 0

Factor the equation: -51 = -3 x 17, and 14 = -3 + 17. So, (a – 3) x (a + 17)

Therefore, a = 3 or a = -17. Since a > 0, then for this question, a = 3.

But we’re not done yet. The question is asking what is the value of a + 7.

3 + 7 = 10, so the correct answer is 10.

Learning these three skills is a great way to start preparing for the new SAT in 2016. You should also review the rest of the complimentary practice materials provided on the official College Board website. As you work through the different sections and question types, determine what your own strengths and weaknesses are on the exam. And, if you need additional assistance, a tutor can help you achieve your goals. For a free consultation from LA Tutors on how to increase your score on the new 2016 SAT, click here or call 866.60.TUTOR today!

Mahlena-Rae Johnson

Author Mahlena-Rae Johnson

Mahlena graduated from Loyola Marymount and received her MBA from USC with a focus on Marketing, Entertainment, and Entrepreneurship. Her specialty lies in graduate level test prep and is also a regular contributor to the LA Tutors blog.

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