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The New SAT is here. Find out what you need to know about the new format and scoring.

With over 75 years of experience, we’ve mastered more than a few test changes and continue to have 95% of our Kaplan students get into one or more of their top choice colleges*.

Want the quick version? See how big the change is in just a few minutes.

The College Board has launched a new SAT for the first time in 11 years. Changes include a new structure, a new score, new sections, and even a new approach to testing. Watch the videos above to learn more.

What is changing on the new SAT?

New SAT vs Old SAT Format

We've got everything you need to know to be prepared. The redesign affects the test’s format, scoring, timing, and more. An optional essay, fewer multiple choice questions, and no penalty for wrong answers are just some of the new features. Get ready for an increased emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, and data analysis.

Here is a breakdown of the changes to the new SAT format:


Current SAT
  • 1/4 penalty for wrong answers
  • Score is out of 2400
    • 800 for Math
    • 800 for Reading Comprehension
    • 800 for Writing
  • No wrong-answer penalty
  • Score is out of 1600
    • 800 for Math
    • 800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Subscores and insight scores available
  • Optional Essay will be scored separately


Current SAT
  • 3 Critical Reading sections
    • 20-25 minutes each
  • 3 Math sections
    • 10-25 minutes each
  • 3 Writing sections
    • 10-25 minutes each
    • Includes 1 Essay test (25 minutes)
  • 1 Experimental test
  • 5 answer choices for multiple-choice questions
  • 1 Evidence-Based Reading and Writing test
    • 65-minute Reading section
    • 35-minute Language and Writing section
  • 1 Math test
    • 55-minute section with calculator
    • 25-minute section without calculator
  • 1 Essay test (optional) - 50 minutes
  • 4 answer choices for multiple choice questions


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


Current SAT
  • Only available in print
  • Focused on broad range of content and skills
  • Available in print and digitally*
  • Fewer questions with a greater focus on in-depth analysis of content and evidence


Current SAT
  • Essay is required
  • Students have 25 minutes to draft a response
  • Quality of reasoning and accuracy of data not tested
  • Score combined with multiple-choice Writing section
  • Essay is optional
  • Students have 50 minutes to analyze a 650-750 word document and draft an essay
  • Tests reading, analysis, and writing skills; requires students to analyze a source document and explain how the author builds an argument
  • Facts matter
  • Scored separately


Current SAT
  • Focus on wide array of topics
  • More emphasis on computational skills
  • Calculators permitted for all sections
  • Multiple choice and grid-in questions
  • Concentrated focus on:
    • Problem-solving and data analysis
    • "The Heart of Algebra"
    • "Passport to Advanced Math"
  • Real-world problem solving accompanied by informational graphics
  • Calculator permitted for 37 questions; not permitted for 20 questions
  • Multiple choice and grid-in questions; 1 Item Set grid-in question

Reading and Writing

Current SAT
  • Critical Reading
    • Sentence Completions
    • Passage-based questions
    • Passage-based questions from short (100-150 words) and long (400-850 words) passages
  • Writing
    • Combined score of writing multiple-choice questions and Essay
  • Evidence-Based Reading
    • No Sentence Completions
    • Tests understanding of passages from U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Studies, and Sciences (500-750 words)
  • Writing and Language
    • Tests "Expression of Ideas" and "Standard English Conventions" through passages relating to Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, and Science
    • All questions pull from extended prose (400-450 words)
What is changing on the new SAT?

The New SAT Scoring

The new SAT will return to the 1600-point scale, with the Math and Reading sections scored between 200 and 800, and the optional essay evaluated separately. The ¼-point penalty for wrong answers will be discontinued.

The new scoring model will provide enriched score reports to help you understand your individual strengths and areas for improvement.

Check out the chart below for a breakdown.

Total Score

Score Range: 400-1600
  • The sum of the two Section scores–Math score + Evidence-Based Reading & Writing score
  • The Essay score will be reported separately and is not a part of the Total Score


Score Range: 1600
  • Details

Section Score

Score Range: 200-800
  • There are two Section scores – one for Math and one for Evidence-Based Reading & Writing
  • The Essay score is scored separately and not included in either Section score

Essay Score

Score Range: 6-24
  • The Essay will have three scores – Reading, Writing, and Analysis, each scored between 2 and 8.

Test Score

Score Range: 10-40
  • There are five Test scores – Math, Reading, Writing & Language, History/Social Studies, and Science
  • Two of the Test scores – History/Social Studies and Science – are “Cross-Test Scores”. These scores will reflect how students per- form on specific questions tied to these subjects as seen in both the Math and Evidence-Based Reading & Writing sections.


Score Range: 10-40
  • There are seven Subscores:
    ▪Two tied to Reading, Writing & Language
    ▪Two tied to Writing & Language only
    ▪Three tied to Math
  • The Reading, Writing & Language Subscores will reflect how students perform on specific questions tied to Command of Evidence and Relevant Words in Context concepts
  • The Writing & Language Subscores will reflect how students perform on specific questions tied to Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions concepts
  • The Math Subscores will reflect how students perform on specific questions tied to The Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis concepts
What is changing on the new SAT?

How to Prepare

For graduates of 2017 or later who will end up taking the revised SAT, it’s not too early to get started! Get a feel for the new concepts with our free new SAT and PSAT quiz, and look into our free online info sessions to learn more. Use this page as a resource as more details become available.

Ready to prep now for the redesigned SAT? See our full list of prep options.

What is changing on the new SAT?

Frequently Asked Questions

With a redesign of this nature, students and families are bound to have many questions. Read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. If you don't see your question, don't be shy - email us at SATchange@kaplan.com!

How has the SAT changed?

The revision is comprehensive, and includes both administrative and content changes. Review the differences between the old SAT and new SAT.

● Administrative and Formatting Changes
o Scoring will return to a composite of 1600
o New scoring elements include Test scores, Subscores, and Cross-Test scores
o No wrong answer penalty
o Longer sections with fewer breaks
o Essay is optional and will be scored separately

● Content Changes
o Sections will be Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
o Math focused on fewer topics with a heavy emphasis on Algebra

Why is the College Board making these changes?

This isn’t the first time the SAT has changed – and it probably won’t be the last! As the creator of the test, the College Board is always working to ensure that the SAT is effective and up to date. With the 2016 revision, the College Board’s stated goal is to better align the test with skills necessary for college and career readiness, and to better connect the test with high school curricula.

Will the new SAT in 2016 exam be harder than the old SAT? Easier?

Every student is different, so it’s not possible to say that the 2016 SAT will be “easier” or “harder” across the board. It’s fair to expect that some students might find parts of the redesigned SAT a bit easier, while others may find new question types more challenging. In an effort to better align the SAT with the skills that matter most in college and in the workplace, the College Board has de-emphasized or eliminated some skills, but other topic areas require an even deeper level of understanding and efficiency. As always, the best way to decide what test is right for you is to try some practice questions or take a free practice test.

I’ve heard the essay will now be optional. Should I still plan to take it?

Most colleges and universities are still deciding whether they will require the essay in 2016. We recommend you check with your target schools to see what they require or will review as part of their admissions decisions.

Will Kaplan strategies still work on the 2016 SAT?

Yes! Kaplan has over 75 years of experience preparing students for not just the SAT, but also the ACT and dozens of other exams. High-quality preparation – focused on content knowledge, good critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and confidence – will always support better outcomes.

The bottom line is that students who are prepared for test day do better than those who walk into a test without any preparation. At Kaplan we continue to innovate and connect students with the right tools, personalized learning, expert teachers, and guaranteed results to help you achieve your educational goals.

What is changing on the new SAT?

The New PSAT/NMSQT Format

Planning to take the PSAT? The new PSAT format mirrors the new SAT format, and it still qualifies you to compete for National Merit Scholarship Awards.

Find out what to expect on the PSAT/ NMSQT below.

*The SAT test date for March 2016 has not been released by The College Board as of October 1, 2014. The countdown date is an estimate only.