The New SAT: What to Do, When, and How Reply

As if the college application process wasn’t enough to worry about, the College Board has decided to layer on an entirely new complication: the announcement of the New SAT, arriving March, 2016 in school gyms near you. Fortunately, while the reasons for the launch of the New SAT are a bit complicated, the actions you should take to deal with it are not.

Before we jump in, let’s take a very quick look at the reasons why the College Board has decided to change its exam for the second time in a decade:

  1. The ACT has become more popular. The College Board is losing market share. The ACT is now taken by more students each year, and the trend away from the SAT and toward the ACT is getting steeper by the season.
  2. The SAT is now seen as the “more complicated” test. Which it is. The ACT and the SAT are both equally as difficult, but the ACT is more straightforward and As a result, the College Board is trying to craft an exam that’s much more like the current version of the ACT.
  3. People hate the current version of the SAT. Switching from 1600 to 2400 points, requiring an essay that no one reads, and disrupting the familiar format of the exam were all very unpopular moves. The new (2005) version of the test was a flop (and largely responsible for the ACT’s surge in popularity), and so the College Board is recognizing their need to change.

What’s going to change on the new test? You can find the entire list of changes here. It’s a lot to digest, so here’s an extremely brief summary:

  1. The test is going back to a 1600-point format. No more 2400-point scale – the test will go back to the familiar 1600-point scale we all know and hate, with two sections: one for math, and one for “verbal.”
  2. The essay will be optional, rather than required. Just like the ACT.
  3. Vocabulary will be less of a concern. There will still be some “in context” vocab, but for the most part, the “pure vocabulary” elements will get nixed.
  4. No more “wrong answer penalty.” Just like the ACT.
  5. More emphasis on “digesting and analyzing graphs and real-time information.” Just like the ACT.

Basically, the test as you know it is gone. For all intents and purposes, it’s going to turn into an ACT with a slightly different structure and a 1600-point grading scale.

The biggest question is this: what do you do about it?

1. If you’re taking either test before March 2016, it’s business as usual. If you want to take the SAT, take the SAT. If you want to take the ACT, take the ACT. To figure out which one you should take, use my free guide here.

2. If you’re taking your standardized tests between March 2016 and June 2016, stick with the ACT. We don’t know exactly what the new SAT will look like, or how well the College Board will roll it out, or how the grading curve will look. If you want to be a guinea pig for the College Board, then by all means – take the March, May, and June 2016 versions of the exam. Otherwise, let them work out their kinks and focus on the ACT instead. The ACT is reliable and predictable – best to stick with the devil you know.

3. After June 2016, we’ll all have a much better idea of what the new SAT looks like, acts like, and “grades” like – from there, pick whichever test works best for you. In June 2016, I’ll be launching a new, free guide to help you decide which test you should focus on.

4. If you’re planning on taking the 2015 PSAT (which will be in the “New SAT” format), study for the ACT! Currently, there aren’t enough materials out to study for the new SAT (the College Board is yet to release their guide, due in mid-June). But the New SAT will be in almost exactly the same format as the current ACT – if you prep for the ACT now, you’ll basically be killing two birds with one stone – knocking out the ACT and prepping for the PSAT. When the new PSAT materials come out this summer, you can just check those for a quick brush up and alteration before you head into the exam.

Not so bad, right? Just follow the four steps above and you’ll be all set. The New SAT is certainly a thorn in our sides, but it’s far from the end of the world. Now that you know what to do, the best piece of advice is to start prepping as soon as you possibly can! The earlier you begin this process, the sooner you’ll have it off your plate, and the more time you’ll have to improve your scores.

Anthony-James Green is world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 10,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. He is also the founder of TestPrepAuthority.com. CNN recently named Anthony: “The SAT tutor to the 1%

Crash Course in College Essay Writing – 12 Tips to Get You Started and Your Juices Flowing Reply

WritingSuccessfulCollegeApplicationsThe clock is ticking and you are a new high school senior (or parent of one!). The summer flew by without even a thought about what to write about for your college essays. Were you too busy with SAT prep? Driver’s ed? Hanging out with friends? Working? Procrastinating? Don’t worry, because help has arrived. Follow these dozen tips below and (hopefully) your juices will be flowing. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Writing Successful College Applications and start reading and getting inspired. But for now, here is your “Cliff’s Notes” version of what you can do to get started: More…

Top Ten Tips for Successful Application Writing Reply

120307022314_typing_computer_internet-480x270Your college application writing is not just about writing one personal statement. There are often several shorter essays, supplemental questions, and short answers required by schools, too. This top ten list will quickly prepare you for all of the writing required on your college applications. Heed this advice and you will be able to start your process “in the know.” More…

Ask a Writing Expert: Q&A with Grammar Girl Reply

MignonGreenHeadshot6Last month, I had the exciting opportunity to ask an Internet celebrity some questions about writing and grammar. Mignon Fogarty, or as most of you probably know her, Grammar Girl, is the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Media Entrepreneurship in the School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is also the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips, one of the oldest and largest podcasting networks; a veteran of Silicon Valley startups; and best known online for her work as the New York Times bestselling author Grammar Girl.

Read on for a transcript of my Q&A session with Grammar Girl, and be sure to check out her website, podcast, and newsletter for more helpful writing tips. More…

5 Things You Need To Know About Starbucks, Arizona State University, and the Future of Higher Education Reply

HK_Starbucks_Coffee_in_Caine_RoadIf you’ve been following any news about higher education lately, you’ve probably heard about Starbucks’s new initiative to pay for the college educations of its students. You can find plenty of good summaries and informational articles out there, including this one from Inside Higher Ed, this one from the Washington Post, and this one from the Seattle Times. Here’s a simple version:

1. A partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University Online is going to pay for employees’ tuition entirely for their junior and senior years of online education.

2. The same partnership will provide financial assistance in the form of a scholarship for the first two years of college.

3. This is not a loan, and is based entirely upon employees’ continued work at Starbucks (there is a certain minimum number of hours students must work to qualify for all this) and attendance to the Arizona State University Online program specifically.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s maybe a bit more complicated than it at first might seem.

More…

Five Quick Tips to Improve Your SAT Score Reply

bubble_testWhen it comes to the SAT, there are thousands of tips, tricks and strategies that can improve your scores.  However, not all of these tips are created equal.  With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick “crash course” of the five most high-impact, easy-to-implement SAT tricks in my arsenal – tricks that you can use today to improve your score by hundreds of points.

Reading Test

1. Skim passages – don’t devour them.

If you want great SAT reading scores, here’s the golden rule:

You should NEVER answer a question before looking back at the passage and finding concrete evidence.  With the exception of “main idea” problems, there’s not a single SAT reading problem that should be answered based on memory – instead, you should be able to point at the evidence required to answer each question.

With that in mind, the first time that you read through, don’t read SAT passages for absolute comprehension – just get the main idea and build a mental “table of contents.”  You don’t need to remember every detail – in fact, you won’t need 95% of what you read.  Just get the main idea, the tone, and a basic map of where different elements of the passage are located.

You’ll be looking back for evidence anyway, so cut your reading time in half.  Just skim the passage, get the main idea, and move on – you’ll save tons of time, and you won’t lose any essential information.

2. Answer every question before you look at the answers.

The SAT is incredible at coming up with tempting answer choices.  Alongside the right answer choice, you’ll see four extremely credible, seemingly legitimate answers.  The problem, of course, is that all four of them are wrong.

So how do you guard yourself against the sneaky, incorrect answer choices provided by the SAT?  Come up with your own answer BEFORE you ever look at the answer choices provided!

Read the question, do the research, and then answer the question in your own words.  Express the concept verbally, and make it real in your head.  Then, and only then, should you look at the answer choices.

If you do this, you’ll suddenly find that the correct answer is nearly identical to what you said, and the four wrong answers are silly and ridiculous.  If you don’t answer the question in your own words first, you’ll try to justify each wrong answer, which is exactly what the test is designed to trick you into doing.

Math Test

3. Use the answers.

On 44/54 SAT math problems, the correct answer is sitting right in front of you, just waiting to be selected. Unlike on the Reading Test questions, ignoring the answer choices on these questions is one of the least efficient things you can do.

On every single multiple choice math problem, ask yourself this: could you plug in the answer choices, rather than doing any actual figuring?  Could you use the answer choices to gain insight into how to solve the problem?  Could you just test the available options, rather than doing tough algebra or setting up some sort of complicated system?

See if you can use the answers before you do any real thinking.  This isn’t a strategy to use after you get stumped – it’s the strategy you should use before you do ANYTHING else.

4. Drop your pencil.

There’s a big difference between an SAT math prompt and an SAT math question.   The prompt is the problem itself, including all the information provided by the test, graphs, figures, etc.  The question is the final sentence at the end which you need to answer.  Before you answer any SAT math problem, drop your pencil and re-read the question.

If you’ve spent 60 seconds finding the radius of a circle, make sure that the question isn’t:

“What’s the diameter of the circle?”

If you’ve spent two minutes solving for X, make sure the question isn’t:

“What’s 2X+3?”

The SAT is amazing at getting you to solve for some hard-to-discover variable or figure, only to ask a question that requires a different number or answer.  And you better believe that they’ll have the wrong answer waiting for you – the value of “r” and “X” will definitely be in the available choices.

Writing

5. Don’t pick answer choices – kill them.

Here’s the funny thing about grammar: it’s practically impossible to prove a sentence right, but it’s very simple to prove a sentence wrong.

From now on, don’t spend time figuring out which answer choice is good – spend your time finding errors in the answer choices and systematically eliminating them.

Run through all the answer choices and slash anything that’s obviously wrong.  Then, take the remaining answers and compare them to each other two at a time, paying attention only to their differences.  Whichever difference is wrong should be eliminated.

Continue this process until you’ve killed all four wrong answers.  This method saves time, eliminates indecision, and leads to much more accurate, less confusing choices.

Now get to it!

All of these strategies will make a huge difference in your overall score – but only if you put them to use.  Grab some SAT practice material and try using all the tips above right away – you’ll be happy that you did!

About the Author

anthony-james_greenAnthony-James Green is regarded as one of the best SAT and ACT tutors in America. After working with over 370 students one-on-one, he’s achieved an average score improvement of over 430 points on the SAT, and 7.1 points on the ACT – higher than any other tutor, class, or course in the country.  Anthony is the creator of the highly regarded online SAT prep program, The Green SAT System, and founder of Test Prep Authority, a free, online resource center for test prep and college admissions. In addition to writing for Test Prep Authority, Anthony-James Green also writes for Petersons and EssayEdge.

Social Media and Your MBA Application Reply

SocialMediaToday’s post comes to us from Stacy Blackman, founder and President of Stacy Blackman Consulting (http://www.StacyBlackman.com). Founded in 2001, Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped thousands of MBA applicants gain admission to the most selective business schools in the world. Stacy is a highly-respected expert in MBA admissions and her company is regularly featured in publications such as BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. More…

The CLA+ Exam and What It Could Mean Reply

dv1644022Forbes just today posted a new article about the CLA+ exam, and what it could mean for accountability in higher education. You can find that article here. It’s a relatively positive take on the CLA+ and what it could do.

Here, let’s talk a bit about some of the potential issues with the CLA+ and how it could affect college education in the future.

More…