Sample Questions, More Details on the Redesigned 2016 SAT

The College Board today released some 250 pages of specifications for the redesigned 2016 SAT, including sample questions. According to Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, today's information includes "everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised." However, the College Board announcement stressed that all the information about the redesigned test is in draft form, "not a full reflection of what will be tested," and subject to change.

College Admission reported the major changes in the redesign last month -- Big Changes Coming to the SAT in 2016:

·        The essay isn't gone, but it's optional and will be scored separately. Students will be asked to read a passage and analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument. The essay will be scored on the strength of that analysis, as well as writing ability.

·        There will still be three sections: "evidence-based" reading and writing, mathematics and the essay.  "Evidence based" simply means students will be asked to back up answers with specific passages from the readings and will be asked to analyze both text and data. The test will also include passages from historical documents crucial to the nation’s founding, from sources such as President Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence or the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

·        Overall scoring will return to the iconic 1600 scale, based on a top score of 800 in both reading and math.

·        "SAT words" are out. Vocabulary words more widely used in classroom and work settings will replace more obscure words.That means you won't see "depreciatory" on the test but you will see "synthesis."

·        The test will be available on computer and paper -- a move the ACT made this year.

·        The test will list four possible answers to each multiple choice question instead of five

·        The "guessing penalty" will be eliminated. Students will no longer have a quarter point deducted for each incorrect answer.

·        Math questions will focus on data analysis, problem solving, algebra and topics leading into advanced math with emphasis on linear equations; complex equations or functions; and rations, percentage and proportional reasoning. Calculators will no longer be permitted on every section, but will be barred in some parts of the test to help gauge proficiency.

·        Fee waivers will be provided directly to financially eligible students from the College Board.

·        The College Board will partner with Khan Academy to provide free online test prep, including instructional videos.


For further details, here's a roundup of the reporting on the test materials disclosed today, including some with lengthy excerpts of the sample questions:

A general overview of the changes from the Washington Post: College Board releases preview of new SAT exam questions

An in-depth look at the sample questions from Eric Hoover at the Chronicle of Higher Education: College Board Unveils Sample SAT Items

A comprehensive overview of the redesign, including excellent source links, from Inside Higher Ed: Previewing the New SAT

A rundown from the Huffington Post, including an extended look at the College Board's rationale for the changes: SAT Changes Include Fewer Answer Choices, Shorter Mandatory Test Time

ABC News has more sample questions: A Few Sample SAT Questions From the New Exam

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing,, has released its own analysis of the redesign: THE “NEW, IMPROVED” 2016 MODEL SAT: “COSMETIC SURGERY” IGNORES TEST’S BASIC FLAWS

Additional information from the College Board can be found here.


Because testing is in a state of evolution, please check back regularly with our website for the most up-to-date information or sign up for our weekly newsletter at the top right of this page. And for more information about testing, including the ACT, SAT, AP, IB and SAT Subject Tests, please see Chapter 7, "Taking the Tests," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance Step by Step.




Maybe if we stop talking about College Board, effectively ignoring them, they'll go away? No such luck! Our only hope to stop the insanity is to have the IRS intervene, #EndNotForProfitStatusForCollegeBoard I sense the seeds of a grassroots movement beginning to sprout under my feet! :-)

Add comment