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New SAT = Same Ol’ ACT?

The rubber is starting to meet the road for the newly designed PSAT and SAT, i.e. the “SAT Suite of Assessments.” The new PSAT will be launched in the fall and the new SAT rolls out in March 2016.

The College Board does a wonderful job of communicating the changes to the tests in its Counselor Resource Guide to the Redesigned Assessments. This guide is available for free here.

As I review the changes to the new SAT Suite of Assessments, I can’t help but think that the new tests are not that different from the ACT. Consider the following:

  1. Gone is the 0.25 point deduction for wrong answers. In its place is the same raw score calculation used for the ACT: one point for a correct answer, no points for a wrong or omitted answer.

  2. No more Sentence Completion questions, which were vocabulary-based questions not found on the ACT. 

  3. Reading passages including scientific articles, graphs and charts like those found on the ACT. 

  4. The new SAT essay score will not factor into the overall score, like the ACT. 

  5. The SAT is providing free study resources which the ACT has done all along. 

These are just a few of the changes, but based on these, doesn’t it seem that the SAT is trying to be more like the ACT? 

Additionally, the College Board states that the “ACT test measures skills across a large domain while the redesigned SAT will measure fewer things much more deeply.” 

More specifically, the ACT provides one score based on the composite of four scores (Reading, English, Math, Science) while the new SAT will give one score based on the total of two scores (Reading/Writing and Math). The difference with the new SAT lies in the additional scores the new SAT will provide called cross-test scores, test scores and subscores. For example, a student will receive an overall score and, additionally, a subscore in specific areas, like Problem Solving and Data Analysis.  

As an educator, I see great value in this additional level of data from the new SAT. However, I am skeptical that colleges and universities will look beyond the overall score. If schools focus only on the total score, scoring the new test offers little difference from scoring the old test much less the ACT. 

I applaud the College Board’s effort in making their tests more applicable and productive. Time will tell if the new SAT does a better job at predicting college performance than the old SAT. 

If you need help navigating the waters of the ACT, PSAT and SAT, contact CROSSWALK today. CROSSWALK continues to prepare students for success in academics, standardized test prep and life. Visit to learn more. 

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