What do the new changes to the SAT and ACT really look like?


  Have you heard rumors about the new SAT and changes to the ACT, but aren’t quite sure what they’re really about? What changes have the tests undergone and how do they affect you? Prepscholar has a useful breakdown highlighting the differences between the new versions of the tests, and exactly what it means for you.





  • The wrong answer penalty has been eliminated. What does this mean? LEAVE NO BUBBLES UNFILLED.
  • “The New SAT has only one reading section and one writing section—the math section is divided into a calculator portion and a no-calculator portions. The sections will always be in the same order. The test will be 3 hours, plus the optional essay.” The essay portion will be 50 minutes long. These changes will make it more similar to the ACT.



  • The timed essay will be longer (40 minutes instead of 30)




  • “Returning to the 400-1600 scale...the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score will be combined with the Math score to create a final score between 400-1600.”
  • “The essay will be given three different scores and no longer affects your total score. Since it's now optional, the new SAT essay will work a lot more like the ACT essay—you'll receive a separate essay score that doesn't factor into your score on the 400-1600 range. The essay score itself is also changing: rather than one score between 2 and 12, you'll get three scores, for reading, analysis, and writing, between 2 and 8.”


  • Scoring will be mostly the same, except ACT Writing. “It will still be a separate score, but it will now be on a scale of 1-36, rather than 2-12.”



  • “The redesigned SAT is much more content based than the current version, so if you're planning to take the new SAT make sure you understand what will be on it. Also, keep in mind that the ACT still tests more grammar and math concepts than the new SAT does.”
  • The essay is now optional for both the ACT and the new SAT, though Hughes recommends you sign up for the test + essay in both cases, to keep your college options open.
  • The new SAT English section will “use the same passage-based format as the ACT English” and ask more grammatical questions.


  • Changes to the ACT essay prompt means you’ll be asked to look at three perspectives on the same issue. Instead of picking a side (like on the old test), you’ll argue your own opinion on the topic in the context of those three perspectives and give as many specific and thorough examples as possible.


act prompt


Still confused or concerned? Hughes College Prep can help you decipher all this information and provide comprehensive test prep to help you succeed!