Only a few years ago, the most common admissions test decision point for families was between starting with a March SAT or a May SAT. The increasing popularity of the ACT and the College Board’s awkward transition to the redesigned PSAT and SAT create a strong need — starting with the Class of 2017 — to reflect on a testing pathway well before preparation begins. The new PSAT was introduced in October 2015, and the new SAT was first administered in March 2016. Compass leaders and curriculum designers meet regularly with College Board members and college admissions directors to stay ahead of the curve, and Compass’ experience in navigating clients through redesigns in 1994 and 2005 informs our planning for the most recent changes.
The redesigned SAT reflects a trend in college admission testing toward alignment with academic standards. Every subject and question type is being overhauled to make results better reflect preparedness in math, reading, and writing skills. Structural specifications for the new SAT give insight into timing, scoring, and question count. Thematic elements provide the nuance necessary to translate content standards into what our students will actually experience on the exam. Compass pays relentless attention to where the SAT will be in 2016 because it serves our more important goal of keeping our clients well-informed, well-prepared, and in sync with their college admissions goals.
For more information about SAT/PSAT, check out the following posts from our blog.
One College Board policy, typically known as “Score Choice,” gives students some control over how SAT and Subject Test scores are reported. But colleges and universities ultimately decide how many scores a student should submit and how those scores will be used in the admissions process.
The new PSAT may have redistributed National Merit (NM) Semifinalist numbers for several reasons: content more aligned with Common Core curriculum; a shift in the PSAT score range; and score inflation and compression. Click through to read more about how the new PSAT has impacted NM distribution.
The class of 2017 faces an unusually high amount of noise surrounding the National Merit Scholarship Program and state cutoffs for Semifinalists. What were the cutoff scores by state? Students scoring at or above the cutoff score in their state qualify as Semifinalists.
Learn More about the New SAT
Download a free copy of the Compass Guide to College Admission Testing. The Compass Guide contains answers to important questions about the redesigned SAT, including:
- What does the new SAT look like? How has it changed?
- What is the structure and scoring of the new SAT?
- How do my scores compare to those of other students?
- How does math on the new SAT compare to math on the ACT?
- What is the new SAT essay assignment? How will it be scored?
Structural Changes to the New SAT
The SAT returns to the pre-2004 composite scale of 400-1600 by keeping a 200-800 Math score and merging the Reading Test and Writing Test scores into a single 200-800 “Area Score.”
Timing (3 hrs; optional 50 minute essay)
The new SAT is 45 minutes shorter than the old SAT, but many colleges will require the essay, so the overall length of testing for most students will actually increase by 5 minutes.
Reading Test (65 minutes, 52 items)
By dropping the 19 Sentence Completions of the current SAT, the new exam can increase the number of Reading items from 48 to 52 while shaving 5 minutes from testing time.
Writing and Language Test (35 min, 44 items)
Problems are based off of longer passages, so while the number of multiple choice problems drops from 49 to 44, the timing remains unchanged. The essay is no longer a part of Writing.
Math Test (80 min, 57 items, 60 points)
The College Board has included a single “extended thinking” grid-in that receives additional weight. The number of multiple choice items drops from 50 to 45, while grid-ins go from 10 items to 12. A 37 question section allows calculators, while a 20 question section does not.
Essay (50 minutes, Optional)
The optional essay resides at the end of the exam and lasts for 50 minutes. Instead of a thesis-based essay, students evaluate use of evidence, reasoning, and persuasive elements to explain how an author crafts an argument.
Thematic Elements of the New SAT
Students are challenged to use evidence to support answer choices. Students no longer contend with a “guessing penalty,” and multiple choice items only have 4 answer choices. These updates reward identifying evidence over guessing and test-wiseness.
Math Relevancy and Fluency
Students are challenged to deepen their focus on the skills identified as the most important for college and career success. Emphasis is added to algebraic problem solving and to data analysis. Trigonometry is added, while geometry item count is reduced.
Vocabulary in Context
Students are challenged to derive meaning from context and close reading. Pure “vocabulary” skills are de-emphasized with the elimination of Sentence Completions.
Grammar, Usage & Punctuation
Students are challenged to revise extended prose and proofread for errors in grammar, punctuation, and frequently confused words.
Text & Data
Students are challenged to analyze, reconcile, and extrapolate from information conveyed through passages and graphical data representations presented across all subjects.
Students are challenged to engage with multi-disciplinary content that emphasizes texts in history, social studies, and science and, on some questions, draw upon U.S. founding documents or “The Great Global Conversation.”
Compare SAT and ACT Scores
After College Board released its series of concordance tables on May 9th – allowing users to compare New and Old SAT scores – we did a bit of work to transform this data into something more user-friendly.
We are pleased to present our SAT and ACT Concordance and Comparison Tool. By using the tool, you can confidently determine which test a student favors based on official or practice test results.
Click the button below to learn more!
SAT Dates and Registration Deadlines
May 5, 2018
June 2, 2018
April 6, 2018
May 3, 2018
Late Registration Deadline
April 25, 2018
May 23, 2018
To register for the SAT on the College Board’s website, click here.
Compass is clearly one of the best investments you can make in your child's future. They offer a myriad of tools - consulting, practice tests, and individualized tutoring - to help your child understand her strengths and weaknesses on admissions tests. Our daughter improved her score by more than 400 points and we are THRILLED by the results!Donna R, Mother of Justine, 11th Grader at Tamalpais High School
Our two sons both used Compass for SAT prep. The tutors' level of professionalism, engagement, and knowledge made a significant difference in final test scores. I recommend Compass without reservation and feel confident that their high standards of excellence distinguishes them from their competitors.Marla G, Mother of Joshua, 10th Grader at Milken Community High School
Catherine found her work with Compass to be the key to comfort in the standardized testing process. Thank you for your superior tutors in several subjects and relaxed drop-in practice test sessions. We will spread the news of your great program to Catherine's classmates!Marilyn J, Mother of Catherine, 11th Grader at Convent of the Sacred Heart
Our son is not a big fan of school and wasn't very enthusiastic about having to spend more time studying for the SAT. Both of our tutors were very understanding and able to modify their techniques to fit with to his style of learning. Specifically, he benefited from the tactical approach that Compass offers and was able to raise his score 230 points. We were VERY pleased.Carla K, Mother of Travis, 12th Grader at La Canada High School
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The ability to take mock full-length practice tests with rapid-scoring helped us assess our son's strengths and weaknesses. The tutors you sent to our home were terrific; they organized and motivated our son to ensure high test scores and improved study habits.Larry T, Father of Graham, 12th Grader at Redwood High School
We had nothing but a positive experience with Compass while preparing for the SAT. Communication is key, and we always felt satisfied with immediate responses via phone and email. Our tutors were bright, engaging, and helped our son attain his goal score - 2050!Maribeth S, Mother of Rob, 12th Grader at Cleveland Charter High School
We discovered Compass after one of our sons took the SAT and was not satisfied with his scores. Subsequently, after working with Compass and taking a couple practice tests, his SAT scores improved considerably. We were very impressed with the quality of the tutors, the professionalism of the organization, and Compass' willingness to work with us to achieve improved results. These attributes as well as our past experiences led us back to Compass as our next son was preparing to take his SAT.Bard S, Father of Connor, 12th Grader at San Ramon Valley High School
My daughter, Crystal, just took the October SAT in her junior year and got a 2310. Frankly, I don’t think you can get any better service than Compass - our family was in caring, capable hands.Grace G, Mother of Crystal, 11th Grader at Aragon School
We are extremely impressed with the Compass leadership team. The personal attention they gave our son helped him to improve his score by over 200 points on his SAT. The Compass team excelled right from from the start, analyzing his test results, and providing relevant study materials and coaching to help gear him up for his best exam day ever.Robert P, Father of William, 12th Grader at the Harker School
We used Compass for my son for the SAT. He's a smart boy who really needed good test scores to offset an average GPA. Thanks to Compass, he improved his SAT by 310 points, putting him in the 97th percentile in Critical Reading, and 91st percentile in Math. Our tutors were phenomenal and offered my son much encouragement for his senior year, far beyond just helping him with the SAT prep.Marly M, Mother of Drake, 12th Grader at Redwood High School
Our son used Compass to improve his SAT score. After only a few sessions and lots of diligent practice, his score went up over 200 points to a 2230. His tutor was clear in her communication and very well-qualified. The homework assignments and readily available practice tests were a great help, and the staff were patient and responsive to my questions. Had we not made the investment in Compass, our son might not now be going to his first-choice college!Wanda L, Mother of Logan, 12th Grader at Mountain View High School
Compass rocks! Our daughter received a 780 on Writing, a 750 in Math, and a 700 on Critical Reading. Compass will be our number one recommendation.Teri C, Mother of Erin, 11th Grader at University High School
Compass' tutors were friendly, knowledgeable, and attuned to the needs of our son. They came to each session armed with study and test-taking strategies that were applicable beyond just taking the SAT. After tutoring had finished, our son obtained a combined score of 2220 - the scores were so good, in fact, that he will not bother taking the exam a second time!Mitchell P, Father of Colin, 11th Grader at Lick-Wilmerding High School
Both of our children had terrific results after working with Compass. Our daughter raised her ACT composite score from a 23 to a 32, and our son improved his score from a 1960 to a 2320. Compass really worked for our family and we do not hesitate to recommend them to our friends. The expert director, tutors, and practice tests were critical to our children's success.Cassidy T, Mother of Dylan, 11th Grader at Harvard-Westlake School
We used Compass for my son's SAT prep. We were impressed with the whole experience. My son's scores improved tremendously (final score was 2150, an improvement of more than 400 points over his first diagnostic test). The practice tests were incredibly helpful, especially since the results came back so quickly, enabling my son's tutors to address his specific issues. The tutors were enthusiastic and professional and made him feel much more confident about taking the test. They were engaged, supportive, and genuinely happy when he ended up doing so well.Daria W, Mother of Adam, 12th Grader at Campbell Hall
There are not enough adjectives to convey just how wonderful Compass - and its tutors - have been to work with in preparing my daughter for the SAT. My daughter loved her tutors and their specialized approach made her more relaxed and secure. We feel incredibly blessed and would highly recommend Compass for their professional and kind demeanor throughout the entire process.Diane C, Mother of Taylor, 12th Grader at Oakwood School
We used Compass for our son who took the SAT in December. Overall, the preparation was highly targeted and enhanced our son's weakest areas. Instead of focusing on tricks or repetition, the tutors at Compass genuinely taught our son advanced material - a necessity for a high-scoring student. We were thrilled when our son scored a 2200 on his first official test.Eugene F, Father of Christian, 11th Grader at Palisades Charter High School
We used Compass for my son's SAT preparation. Prior to starting one-to-one, Daniel took a very successful prep class - also organized by Compass - but we wanted additional guidance and strategy. We simply followed the guidance of our director, who matched our son with a very knowledgable and skilled tutor. Our director was instrumental to our son's success: he took his last SAT in June and received a 2250, including a perfect 800 in Critical Reading.Jung H, Father of Daniel, 12th Grader at Windward School
Coming from a large, competitive high school, we knew test scores would be an important piece of the college acceptance puzzle. When we found Compass, they offered a personalized and targeted approach that met the busy schedule of our daughter. The prep not only helped with the SAT and ACT, but also with time management and strategy on all AP Tests. Thank you, Compass - our daughter went from panic to acceptance to her dream school, Johns Hopkins!Jamie R, Mother of Rebecca, 12th Grader at La Canada High School
We appreciated the student-friendly nature of Compass. My son could communicate with the office and his tutors easily and immediately. The tutors chosen for us were professional, knowledgeable and quick to respond to texts and messages. By the end our was in total control of his studying for the SAT, a lesson in education as well as responsibility. And one last thing, Nate improved his SAT score by over 450 points!Rachel G, Mother of Nate, 12th Grader at Palisades Charter High School
The Compass staff were very professional and caring. My director personally emailed me and provided feedback in great detail; he was also extremely flexible, taking different approaches to boost my daughter's score. Additionally, the tutors were perfectly matched with my daughter and easy to schedule lessons with. Compass was an amazing experience for our family, and I highly recommend them.Reka S, Mother of Kiran, 12th Grader at the Marlborough School for Girls
We used Compass to prepare my daughter for the SAT and had the best experience. My daughter improved by 200 points, resulting in a total score of 2310. My director's advising was terrific, and it's clear that Compass puts your child first - a rarity in today's business world.Sheila B, Mother of Hannah, 11th Grader at Harvard-Westlake School
Our son is a talented student and athlete. He was being recruited by Ivy League schools, so test scores became increasingly important. Following six weeks of preparation, our son improved his SAT score by 250 points and is in the ideal range for highly selective schools. I would recommend Compass to anyone and I plan on continuing our relationship with my younger son and daughter!Chris W, Father of Matthew, 11th Grader at Mira Costa High School
Both of our students' scores improved greatly after working with Compass. Our daughter achieved a 2200 on the SAT and our son received a composite score of 35 on the ACT. The Compass staff spends a great deal of time understanding your child and does a good job matching students with tutors to whom they will respond. The regular proctored practice tests were also an invaluable tool.Gloria Y, Mother of Zach and Isabel, 11th and 12th Graders at Flintridge Prep
Compass was a great help in motivating my daughter and improving her SAT score. The proctored practice tests gave her the necessary experience of timing and test-taking strategies. We were pleased by the feedback and and immediate follow-up of score reports, which helped identify areas that needed additional improvement. My daughter enjoyed the enthusiasm, helpfulness, and knowledgeability of her tutors, who were also able to accommodate her busy schedule. Thank you, Compass!Lisa C, Mother of Valerie, 11th Grader at Santa Monica High School
I truly believe that you get the most "bang for your buck" with Compass. From the beginning, we were guided by our Compass director, who was always available for our questions or concerns. Our son's tutors were fantastic and very accommodating to his hectic high school schedule. Additionally, Compass has practice tests available every weekend with quick turn-around score reports. In the end, my son raised his score from his practice tests and got a 2320 after his first and only sitting. We highly recommend Compass and plan to use them for our younger two children.Sarah V, Mother of Chris, 11th Grader at Loyola High School
I highly recommend Compass Education Group. Our director guided us in choosing the best exam for my son based on results of proctored SAT and ACT exams. Our director was proactive and responsive in making adjustments to the test prep plan when needed. In just nine lessons, our son's ACT score improved from a 28 to a 33. We appreciate the Compass team's approach in turning an often stressful experience into a positive and productive one.Susan B, Mother of Taylor, 12th Grader at Tamalpais High School
We really enjoyed working with Compass and are extremely happy with our daughter's progress on the SAT. Our tutors played a very critical role in helping our daughter achieve her score goals, and our director was incredibly helpful in selecting the right tutors and monitoring the results.Mark A, Father of Lauren, 11th Grader at Viewpoint School
Compass provided excellent tutors that were a perfect match for my daughter. Also, she was able to take proctored practice tests in a group setting with her extended time - an option other companies could not provide. Her test scores improved approximately 200 points from her junior year PSAT to her spring SAT and rose an additional 30 points in her targeted areas when she took the SAT for the second time. We are very happy with her scores and the preparation it took to get her there.Tina K, Mother of Heather, 11th Grader at Viewpoint School
Our two daughters used Compass for test preparation - one for SAT prep, the other for ACT prep. We were very pleased with the results of both girls' programs and found Compass' tutors to be responsive, flexible, prompt, and great at empowering our girls. I often recommend Compass when friends ask about test preparation.Beth F, Mother of Dana and Jenna, 12th Graders at Milken Community School
We recently learned that Stephanie scored a 2200 on her SAT. I wanted to thank you personally for the special care and attention you had given us throughout the process. We were all very impressed by the services offered by Compass, from the course materials and amazing tutors, to the vast number of practice tests. Now we have become enthusiastic advocates of Compass. You have won our hearts with unparalleled quality and solid results.Lihua L, Mother of Stephanie, 12th Grader at Polytechnic School
Our son was not a great standardized test taker, but thanks to his Compass English and Math tutors he was able to raise his SAT score by 330 points. Both tutors were not only fantastic teachers, but wonderful young men who really understood what made our son tick and how to inspire him. The Compass staff was very professional and available to answer any and all of our questions.Becky H, Mother of Eli, 12th Grader at Campbell Hall
We were originally apprehensive about working online, but our grandson needed the flexibility due to his extensive travel schedule. The results speak for themselves: a 300-point increase with a 780 in Critical Reading! Our director assigned the perfect instructor to Wesley, and communication and responsiveness from all staff were outstanding from start-to-finish. Thank you!Caitlin H, Grandmother of Wesley, 12th Grader at Coppell High School
I am extremely pleased by the outcome of our program - my son improved from a 27 on his first practice test to a 32 on his official ACT. Our tutors were amazing and they tailored the lessons to improve CJ's speed and mastery of concepts that needed the most attention. This targeted approach was assisted by the readily available practice tests, detailed feedback, and regular communication provided by our professional and knowledgable director. I would highly recommend Compass to those looking for exceptional test prep and quantifiable results.Geri S, Mother of CJ, 11th Grader at Mira Costa High School