Don’t Fear The “Changes” To The SAT

The College Board announced some changes that they want to implement in a couple of years. (Spring 2016.) This is going to be based on The Common Core Standards. But fortunately, the CC has not been adopted by all states or most private or homeschoolers and many states are now backing out which means a test like the SAT, which is “standardized” must be a test that any student can do well on regardless of what school they go to or what state they live in. I.e. a test that does not include everyone will be called elitist, racist, exclusivist…which means they can be open to lawsuits. (Colleges use the SAT to compare students from all walks of life.)

Anytime there is a “change”, people become afraid of the unknown. I would definitely encourage students to start taking the SAT now, (no limit on how many times it can be taken) while it is “familiar” and we have already figured it out! We at CPG will keep an eye on the test and if any significant changes occur, and we will implement them into our program.

They have just started doing a test market for the Common Core but there are so many groups against it that it can very well crumble before the “proposed” two year changes. (Similar questions will start appearing on the Equating Section of the SAT to see how students answer them.)

If anything, they are dumbing the SAT down which means College Prep Genius will still provide vital information which will ultimately make students incredibly well prepared. Keep in mind that College Prep Genius test-taking strategies will also help on tests like the ACT, GRE, LSAT…

Proposed Changes:

  1. The essay will be optional: This may make students happy but keep in mind that if a college admissions counselor is on the fence about a student’s application, they use the writing section as the determining factor. We will still show students how to get a perfect essay score.
  2. Scoring: It will return to 1600 (removing the writing section) See above.
  3. Two formats: The test will be on paper and computer. Our online program will have both options but we recommend doing it on paper so students can decode the questions with their pencil.
  4. Reduced Time: The test will be a little shorter unless the student writes the essay.
  5. Familiar Vocabulary: Obscure words are to be removed but we teach it is not about knowing the definition of a word, but how to figure it out-a skill needed in college.
  6. Subjective Evidence: This is about citing parts of a passage but this is misleading because the test is OBJECTIVE which means there is only ONE right answer.
  7. Essay Analyzing: The judges will still need a set of standards to grade an essay. See 1.
  8. Focused Math: Problem solving, data analysis and Algebra questions-this will continue to implement a critical thinking test that will need strategies to answer them quickly in order to finish on time.
  9. Document Sourcing: Passage-based reading topics that will still only have certain questions types.

10. Analyzing Data: More Passage-based reading sections that can include topics like science and social studies.

11. Founding documents/Global conversations: More Passage-based reading that is drawn from historical documents, letters or books.

12. No guessing penalty: There are no points deducted for guessing but be aware that this is a bad strategy because there is an 80% chance of getting the answer wrong. Even though no points are deducted, none are gained either. Students should skip the question, answer as many as possible and then return to it. Often our subconscious continues to work on the problem and when we come back to it, we often see the answer clearly. Correct answers can yield 10-40 points each.


The SAT is a test of time-management! Students will still need to learn shortcuts, recurring patterns and strategies in order to answer the questions quickly. *Be leery of “free” programs that may teach a lot of content but won’t necessarily help in time-management.


*If everyone learned the “secret” to acing the test, (especially in a free program) then anyone could get a perfect score and colleges would have a difficult time comparing students from all academic and regional backgrounds.

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