Redesigned PSAT and SAT Bring Significant Changes for Students

     What’s the hot, new topic of conversation, you ask? The PSAT and SAT of course! On October 28, sophomores and juniors faced the redesigned Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), and in March of 2016 many students will be taking the redesigned Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).  Each of the tests includes some changes which might compel students to change their studying strategies.

     From a different time limit to a new format, the changes to the PSAT are wide-ranging. The current PSAT will take 35 minutes longer than the previous version even though it only has two  sections instead of three.. There haven’t been many modifications to the math section of the current PSAT, but the College Board does warn that foundational skills are more important than before. The second section, however,, is very different as it combines both reading and writing questions. This is good news for students, as it puts  less emphasis on memorized vocabulary words and focuses more  on recognizing vocabulary words in greater contexts. On the whole, the College Board writes that the new PSAT’s reading and writing will test knowledge that is most important for “college and career readiness.” Although some sections of the redesigned PSAT may seem more challenging and time-consuming, Berkeley students can breathe a sigh of relief as there is now no penalty for guessing.

Here a student is seen studying for the math section of the SAT.
US News
Here a student is seen studying for the math section of the SAT.

     The new SAT, like the PSAT, will include many modifications. The redesigned SAT, which will be implemented in March of 2016, lasts five minutes longer than the old SAT and includes four sections instead of three. Students are no longer being asked sentence completion questions, as the new SAT puts greater emphasis on demonstrating reasoning and critical thinking skills.. According to The Princeton Review, finding answers will now require multiple steps even though students will only have four answer choices instead of five. This multiple choice format resembles that of the American College Testing Program (ACT), which also includes only four answer choices. Lastly, foundational math skills are stressed on the redesigned SAT, and students are not penalized for guessing. Although these changes may be overwhelming, students still have five months, approximately 150 days or 3,600 hours, to prepare.

     If you are not sure how to approach the new PSAT or SAT, feel free to contact Upper Division English Teacher Tom Brandt at [email protected]