Old vs. New – SAT Edition


Jackie Ho

As the sophomores and juniors look up their scores for the PSAT, now they must

prepare for the dreaded SAT, every high school student’s nightmare. As one of the most

important parts of the college application process, the SAT measures the overall

knowledge of the test taker. Recently, every aspect of the SAT was drastically changed

ranging from the format, types of questions, and more. When comparing the old version

to the newer one, it was definitely a change worth making.

In my honest opinion, I always thought the old SAT was a waste of time and

could never accurately measure a student’s knowledge. On the old SAT, you know those

questions asking for the most appropriate word to enter in the sentence yet they give three

words that almost have the exact same definitions? Though having a sophisticated

vocabulary is great and all, I don’t believe testing if the student knows the word-for-word

definition or not contributes to determining their knowledge. Even though those questions

weren’t meant as trick questions, they really do seem like it. In addition, the test

pointlessly has you memorize hundreds of words you most likely won’t ever use.

Someone, tell me when you would ever use the word salubrious, dilettante, or torpid in an

everyday conversation.

The absolute worst part of the SAT would be the essay; it barely gives time for

any pre-writing or preparation. Who gives only 25 minutes to write a multi-paragraph

essay? If someone were to write a four-body paragraph without any pre-writing, they’d

have at most six minutes per paragraph that doesn’t even include time used thinking

about the prompt. If the SAT’s purpose were to figure out the student’s intelligence, you

would think they’d actually give you the time to put your best effort.

In the newer version, almost every change made to the test was a positive one. For

example, in the evidence-based reading and writing section, there are questions where the

first asks for analysis and the second asks for supporting evidence, preventing any lucky

guesses. The math section was also improved as well with some questions about data

interpretation and graphs. These questions require further thinking and this knowledge

can later be used for certain careers in the future; they’re more useful and common than

knowing how to find the angle of depression. Also, the new SAT offers the “optional”

essay giving an extra fifty minutes to finish it. Making the essay optional allows students

not interested in prestigious universities to not have to write at all. The issue is that those

who do want to go colleges like any of the Ivy League schools must pay for it each time.

The best improvement would be the material covered overall in the test. The questions

correlate with what topics and skills learned in the classroom. Overall, the newer SAT

was a definite change that needed to be made.