Last Updated On: July 30th, 2015

The new SAT, which is set for release this March, will be very different from the old version. This blog will discuss some of the changes that have been made to the test and the real reasons behind these changes. We will also talk about the SAT’s competitor: The ACT.

Deciding which exam your child should take is an important decision that will affect his/her future. This blog offers recommendations and advice that could help make the “ACT vs. new SAT” decision easier.

As a bonus, answer at a new SAT math question correctly, and you’ll automatically be entered into a chance to win a FREE hour of tutoring!


Beginning March 2016 (which affects ALL students except current seniors), the SAT will change dramatically. Here are a few of the numerous changes:

  • The score will be out of 1600 once again
  • No more guessing penalty
  • Omission of obscure, esoteric, onerous vocabulary (In other words, goodbye hard to understand, rarely used words!)
  • Addition of a calculator-free math section
  • The Essay section is moved to the end of the test, is optional, and will have it’s time limit increased from 25 to 50 minutes.

    Why the (radical) changes?

    The creators of the SAT have issued numerous statements about the reasoning behind these changes. The truth is that in recent years, the SAT has been increasingly losing market share.

    Although we like to think of the SAT as a rite of passage, the truth is that the SAT is by no means a ceremonial transition; the SAT is a money making product.

    # of students taking the SAT
          x COST of taking the SAT

    Where are all of the SAT customers running to?

    To the ACT!

    It’s an easier exam (in some ways). The vocabulary on the old SAT was HARD and required students to study many vocabulary words commonly seen on the test. The SAT also tends to have “tricky” questions that employ test-taking strategies while the ACT is more content-based. Another way in which the SAT is more strict than the ACT is how it administers extended time for students with an accommodation. The ACT gives extended time in one large chunk and lets test takers decide how to spend it and when to take breaks. Extended time on the SAT is regimented, with designated breaks and time-and-a-half given for each section. The SAT is tricky!

    So, as any other business would do in a situation in which it was losing money, the SAT is making changes to try and win back its customers.

    Does that mean that the new SAT will be as easy as π (pie)?

    Not necessarily (As a tutoring company, keep in mind that our objective is to help students to maximize their scores on these exams!)

    We are pleased that they did away with the difficult vocabulary words. Rote memorization is hard for many students and learning 500+ obscure vocabulary words is time consuming, especially during a student’s junior year.

    We are, however, hesitant to advise our students to take the 2016 SAT because:

  • Fewer chances to take new SAT – it will be available beginning March 2016
  • Currently there are only four official practice exams
  • There are still many unanswered questions about scoring


  • If your child is testing in 2016, go with the ACT because there will be little to no surprises, and your child won’t have to act as a guinea pig for a new exam
  • OR

  • At the very least, and as any savvy customer who is making a purchase would do, test drive the tests! Just as you would test drive two cars before making a decision to purchase one, have your child take both an ACT and an SAT diagnostic before making the final decision about which test is better suited for him/her
  • Don’ts

  • Don’t suggest your child take the SAT solely because your older child took it and did well
  • Don’t suggest your child take the SAT solely because it’s the only exam being offered at school
  • Don’t suggest your child take the SAT solely because he/she took a PSAT at school and is therefore familiar with the formatting

    Back to the original question…

    Will Pamela continue to purchase 192 oranges in every math problem?

    The answer is No! The new SAT will now…

    “Ask students to solve problems grounded in science, social science, career scenarios, and other real-life contexts.” –College Board

    So Pamela might buy 4 or 5 oranges at the grocery, but unless she is in the restaurant industry, she will probably not be purchasing 192 oranges.

    Parents, are you smart enough to tackle the NEW SAT?

    (*We are only really offering knowledge in the form of a free tutoring session, but we got your attention!)

    Enter for a chance to Win a FREE one hour tutoring session by correctly answering the following new SAT question and commenting that answer below with a brief explanation!

    Clara bought an new iPhone at a store where they offered 75% discount off of the original price. However, Clara still had to pay an 8.5% sales tax based off of the original price. If Clara ended up paying $251.25, what was the original price of the iPhone?

    One winner will be picked at random from all correct answers on 8/16/15. Winner will be contacted via e-mail.

    Eric Kim

    Author Eric Kim

    Eric is the Program Director at LA Tutors and has over twenty years experience as a private tutor. He has served as an academic counselor, college counselor to hundreds of students and now uses his experience across all areas of academia to help develop new curricula and programs designed to help students achieve their individual goals.

    More posts by Eric Kim

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