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# Beating the New SAT: A Look at the Format (page 2)

By John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

### The Format Of The New SAT

The format of the SAT changed in March 2005, thus garnering the moniker the "New" SAT. And this new arrival is not your big brother's SAT. The analogies from the Verbal section are gone, as are the quantitative comparison questions from the Math section. In fact, the whole Verbal section has been reconfigured and renamed the Critical Reading section. Oh, and there is a whole new Writing section too.

#### Length and Scoring

The New SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes in length—45 minutes longer than the old exam—primarily due to the addition of the new Writing section. The scoring range (200-800) is the same, but you will now receive three scores (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing); thus a top score on the SAT is now 2400, rather than 1600. The average New SAT score is about 1500, or 500 per section. In addition to this score, you will receive a percentile rank for each section, which will tell you how you scored relative to the other students who took that administration of the exam. So, for example, if you got a 780 on the Math section and scored in the 98th percentile, that means you scored better than 98 percent of the other students on that section of the exam.

#### The Math Section

The Math section of the exam is 70 total minutes in length and is broken down into three sections typically comprising twenty multiple-choice questions (25 minutes); eighteen questions, including ten free-response questions (25 minutes); and sixteen multiple-choice questions (20 minutes). Topics covered in the Math section of the New SAT include number series and operations, Algebra I, Algebra II, functions, geometry, statistics, probability, and data analysis. These subject areas break down further into the following general categories of questions: fractions, even-odd relationships, factors, exponents, percentages, equations, angles, parallel lines, triangle geometry, circle geometry, geometry of other shapes and figures, number lines, coordinates, inequalities, and averages.

The Critical Reading section of the exam, also 70 minutes in length, tests skills through sixty-seven questions, all of which are multiple choice. Topics covered on the Critical Reading section include sentence completion and short and long reading comprehension passages. The sentence completion questions require you to "fill in the blanks" in a sentence from a list of choices provided, testing your mastery of vocabulary, usage, and context. The reading comprehension questions come in six flavors: (1) short passages of 60-120 words followed by two questions; (2) paired short passages followed by four questions asking you to compare and contrast the arguments contained therein; (3) long passages of 400-550 words followed by five to seven questions; (4) longer passages of 550-700 words followed by eight to ten questions; (5) a "mega" passage of 650-850 words followed by thirteen questions; and (6) paired long passages followed by thirteen questions asking you to compare and contrast the arguments contained therein.

#### The Writing Section

The new Writing section of the exam, which is 60 minutes in length, features forty-nine multiple-choice questions and one essay broken down into three sections. The first section, which runs 25 minutes in length, requires you to construct an essay and measures your ability to define, support, and effectively communicate a position. According to the New SAT's own scoring guide, the best of these essays (the ones that achieve the highest score) will (1) "effectively and insightfully de­velop a point of view on the issue and demonstrate outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position"; (2) "be well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas"; (3) "exhibit skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate and apt vocabulary"; (4) "demonstrate meaningful variety in sentence structure"; and (5) be "free of most errors in grammar, usage and mechanics."

The second section, which runs 25 minutes in length, will require you to identify grammatical errors and improve grammatical structure in sentences and passages by selecting the appropriate correction from a multiple-choice list provided. The third section, which runs 10 minutes in length, will again ask you to improve grammatical sentence structure.

The essay is assigned a subscore between 2 and 12; the multiple-choice questions are assigned a score between 20 and 80; and the entire section is scaled to the familiar 200-800 range.