The New SAT vs. the Old SAT

Instructor: Nicky Davis
The SAT has changed in March, 2016. Read on to learn about the differences between the previous SAT and the new test, and get some advice on how to prepare for exam day.

Current SAT vs. New SAT

To make the content of the SAT more relevant and applicable to future college success, College Board introduced the New SAT in March 2016. Below find side-by-side overviews to compare each section of the previous SAT with the updated version.

For test prep information check out our SAT Prep Course. It offers in-depth review lessons for the entire exam, and has been updated to reflect the new style of the SAT.

Reading and Writing Sections

Sections/TestsSingle 2-section Reading and Writing testSeparate Writing and Language Test and Reading Test
Skills AssessedWriting Section:
*Sentence completions,
*Random vocabulary
Reading Section
*Reading comprehension based on random sources
Writing and Language Test
* Passage-based grammar
*Contextual vocabulary
Reading Test
* Reading comprehension drawn from historical, scientific and sociologic documents with more graphs and charts
Number of QuestionsReading Section: 67 questions
Writing Section: 49 questions
Reading Test: 52 questions
Writing and Language Test: 44 questions
Time AllottedReading Section:70 minutes
Writing Section: 60 minutes
Reading Test: 65 minutes
Writing and Language Test: 35 minutes

Check out's SAT Reading Prep course. Work through our video lessons at your own pace, and use our lesson and chapter exams to check your understanding as you go.

Math Section

Sections/TestsSingle Math testSingle math test with no-calculator questions
Skills Assessed* Basic Algebra
* Geometry
* Arithmetic
* Statistics and Probability
* Linear equations
* Quantitative data analysis
* Complex equations
Number of Questions54 questions57 questions
Time Allotted70 minutes80 minutes's SAT Math Prep course provides an extensive review of math topics covered in the SAT. Use the chapter exams as a pre-assessment to determine what you need to study, or along with the lesson quizzes to track your progress.

Essay Section

Sections/TestsRequired essayOptional essay (some colleges may still require it)
Skills Assessed* Ability to write an argument based on a writing prompt* Ability to analyze an author's argument and provide support from a 600-700-word passage
Number of Questions1 essay prompt1 essay passage
Time Allotted25 minutes50 minutes

The SAT Writing Prep course contains chapters on: the mechanics of effective essay writing, planning and writing essays, parts of an essay, and writing and language test practice.

Test Structure & Scoring

Previous SAT

The previous SAT gave 5 answer choices per question, and students were penalized for wrong answers. Students had 200 minutes to complete the exam.


The new SAT has only 4 answer choices per question, and does not penalize students for wrong answers, using a rights-only scoring system. The new SAT is 180 minutes long.

Preparing for the SAT

When it comes to the SAT, preparation is the key to success. Take advantage of's comprehensive resources in our SAT Prep Course so you can work your way to a great SAT score.

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