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Changes to the Math Section of the SAT

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There is a bit more time per question.

There is no longer a penalty for guessing incorrectly (this was a main driver of students selecting the old ACT over the old SAT).

Now there are four answer choices instead of five.

Scoring for the test is 1600 (800 for combined Reading and Writing) and 800 for Math.

The math questions now emphasize more reading and interpretation. The problems focus less on aptitude and more on achievement so there are not as many “puzzle-like” math problems

The new math is harder so the curve has been adjusted to be “more forgiving.” For example, the old test gives a 700 with 4 incorrect answers; new test gives 700 with 8 incorrect answers.

There are more science graphs in the math section requiring interpretation and reasoning (but not science achievement).

Math problems are more rigorous, more analytical, and require more critical thinking.

The math questions are more aligned with the “common core” and are presented much more in the context of “word problems.”

The old SAT math test asked students to solve equations. The new SAT math requires students first create the equations, then solve them. Some questions ask, “What is the meaning of the slope or the y-intercept in the equation?”

Algebra is more prominent and geometry is less prominent. Very little trigonometry remains. More statistics has been added. More “expected value” questions rather than simple average calculations.

There are now more multi-part questions.

Math Topic Comparison – New SAT vs new ACT


John Accardi and Nancy Clarke

Academic Testing Advantage

Academic Testing Advantage
John Accardi has taught public high school mathematics from Title I remedial mathematics to advanced placement calculus. He's taught in traditional and alternative education settings involving at-risk high school students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. John mentored and coached many high school students in cross country and track and field. He has also taught college students. John worked in the Information Technology industry for over 25 years developing training curriculum and … more »
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