The New SAT in 2016

In December of 2013, the administrator of the SAT®, the College Board, announced that revisions to the SAT will be implemented in the spring of 2016. As with previous test revisions, the PSAT will change first in the fall of 2015, and the SAT will follow. The new PSAT will serve as a preview for the new SAT.

Headlines include the return to a 1600 scale, an optional essay, and shifts in approach to both vocabulary and math concepts.

The graduating class of 2017 will see the new version of the SAT in the spring of 2016 as juniors.

Changes to the SAT

Current SAT

(Class of 2014-2016)


(Class of 2017 and beyond)


  • ¼-point penalty for wrong answers
  • Score is based out of 2400 -- 800 for Math; 800 for Reading Comprehension; and, 800 for Writing
  • No wrong-answer penalty
  • Score is based out of 1600 -- 800 for Math; 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Optional essay will receive a separate score


  • 3 hours 45 minutes
  • 3 hours; 3 hours 50 minutes with optional essay


  • Only available in print
  • Test focused on broad range of non-essential topics and content
  • Available digitally and in print
  • Fewer questions with a greater focus on in-depth analysis of content


  • Essay is required
  • Students have 25 minutes to write a persuasive essay in response to a prompt
  • Accuracy of information not tested
  • Essay is optional
  • Students have 50-minutes to analyze document and draft essay
  • Essay requires students to analyze source documents and explain how the author builds an argument
  • Facts matter


  • Focus on wide array of topics
  • More emphasis on computational skills
  • Calculators permitted for all sections
  • Focus on 3 topics -- problem-solving and data analysis, “the heart of algebra,”and “passport to advanced math”
  • Real-world problem solving including analyzing data, charts, and graphs
  • Calculator no longer permitted for all math sections

Reading and Writing

  • Writing score combines writing multiple-choice and essay
  • Reading section has two question types: sentence completion and passage-based questions
  • Reading and Writing sections combine into “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing” section
  • No Sentence Completions
  • Focus on real-world vocabulary-in-context as well as revising and editing writing in passages
  • Focus on analyzing Literature, Social Studies, and Science passages
  • One passage will be a Primary Source from American and/or World History, such as The Constitution or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech