How Difficult is the New SAT?

New SATLong gone are the days of memorizing esoteric lexicon for the reading comprehension section, literature examples for the essay or grammar rules for confusing writing scenarios created by the College Board. The New SAT has now carried out three implementations of the college bound exam; three in the United States and two tests for the rest of the world. And the verdicts are in.

The Atlantic reports:

…more than two months after the first administration of the revamped exam and years after the media started to speculate about the new test’s difficulty. And it turns out that, after years of stagnation, the scores have gone up—rather significantly.

As a result of the higher scores, there is talk that the test is much easier. Here at SanLi, one of Hong Kong’s Top SAT Academies and the most successful Test Prep Center on the Mainland of China, we’ve even seen many of our students score quite nicely.

SanLi Student’s 1520 on the New SAT (May Exam) w/ Perfect 800 in Math

SanLi Student 1520 SAT Score

SanLi Student’s 1560 & Perfect 800 in Reading (May Exam) SanLi Student 1560 SAT Score

SanLi Student’s 1510 on the New SAT (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 1510 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 1540 on the New SAT

SanLi Student's 1540 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 23 out of 24 on the New SAT Essay (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 23 out of 24 on the on the New SAT Essay

Beyond the removal of the extra challenging exercises that many complained about, the new SAT has also reduced the number of choices from 5 to 4 and no longer penalizes test takers for wrong answers. So, the perceived inflation may also be due to this set of hanged which matches the test which overtook it in 2011/2012: the ACT.

The Reading Comprehension Section Appears to be Easier

One tutor through an opinion piece in Newsday reported he found the Reading to be less challenging:

I found the reading section of the new SAT to be easier than the old SAT. Passages were more straightforward. Also, the test provides 1 minute, 15 seconds, per question — an increase of 15 seconds. That helped me go back and check answers. In the new SAT, several reading questions ask students to answer based both on a passage and a corresponding graph. It feels like a Time magazine article that uses text and a graph, so the reader has to synthesize both. With the prevalence in infographics and the increasing amounts of data that workers must analyze, these questions are a dramatic improvement over the old SAT.

CNN reported a survey done by the College Board.  The students said:

In the College Board survey, 71% said the test reflected what they were learning in school, and 75% said the reading section was the same as or easier than expected. Eighty percent said the vocabulary words used on the test would be useful to them later in life, as compared to 55% who answered that way about last year’s exam, the survey found.

The New SAT Writing and Language Section

The tutor above continues:

The writing and language section was very similar to the ACT’s English section. Predictable questions tested subject-verb agreement, elimination of redundant phrases, and homophones such as their vs. there. Students shouldn’t spend too much time checking answers. I typically like to read a question a second or third time, but on this new section, there wasn’t enough time.

The SAT Math Section

And he also comments on the Math section:

The new SAT’s math portion was dominated by algebra and reading. The questions build in real-world context, such as dealing with costs of renting a car, or dealing checking and savings accounts. The first section did not allow use of a calculator, while the second did. Both included easy and hard questions, and forcing students to answer without a calculator was a smart improvement. For years, educators have complained that students relied too heavily on their calculators.

From CNN:

Forty-one percent felt the math section was more difficult than expected, according to the Kaplan survey. However, students did not seem wildly affected by not being able to use a calculator throughout the entire math section. (They can now use a calculator in only some sections of the math exam.) Fifty-six percent said they felt comfortable answering the math questions without a calculator, according to the survey.

Despite the Higher Scores, It’s Imperative to Stay “On Top”

As the Washington Post points out:

Many college-bound students across America are celebrating this week what appear to be impressive results from the revised SAT. But in general the scores are not as strong as they seem at first glance. It turns out the new test comes with a degree of score inflation. Simply put: a 1300 on the SAT is not worth as much as it used to be.

So, does that mean students and parents shouldn’t be satisfied with let’s say a 1400?  Perhaps.

As we’ve seen, the high achievers are always doing what they can to stay on top of the percentiles.  The scores aren’t what are important.  The comparison to their peers are.

More 1500+ Test Results from SanLi Students Including this 1540

SanLi Student's 1540 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 1500 on the New SAT (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 1500 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 23/24 on the New SAT Essay (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 23/24 on the New SAT Essay

SanLi Student’s 1520 on the New SAT (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 1510 on the New SAT

Another SanLi Student’s 1500 on the New SAT – Higher Reading & Writing Score (May Exam)

SanLi Student's 1500 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 1540 on the New SAT (March Exam)

SanLi Student's 1540 on the New SAT

SanLi Student’s 1520 on the New SAT (March Exam)

SanLi Student's 1520 on the New SAT


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