Comparison of SAT and Redesigned SAT Tests

What are the differences between the Old SAT & Redesigned SAT Tests?

Category Old SAT Redesigned SAT
Total Testing Time
  • 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • 3 hours (without essay)
Test Sections
  • Mathematics (800 points)
  • Writing/Essay (800 points)
  • Critical Reading (800 points)
  • Mathematics (800 points)
  • Reading Test (400 points)
  • Writing and Language Test (400 points)
  • Essay (scored separately)
  • Penalties for incorrect responses
  • No penalty for incorrect responses
Reading Test
  • 70 Minutes - 67 Questions
  • Heavy emphasis on obscure vocabulary, especially in context.
  • No requirement that students encounter scientific or historical sources.
  • Reading and writing sections do not require students to cite evidence.
  • 65 Minutes - 52 Questions
  • Little or no emphasis on obscure vocab.
  • Students will encounter source texts from science, history, and social studies.
  • Students will encounter questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.
  • Students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real-world contexts.
Mathematics Test
  • 70 Minutes - 54 Questions
  • Draws from a wide variety of algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and Algebra II.
  • Calculator is permitted for all problems.
  • Calculator Section: 55 Minutes - 38 Questions
  • No Calc. Section: 25 Minutes - 20 Questions
  • Places a greater emphasis on topics such as algebra, linear relationships and functions.
  • Places a smaller emphasis on geometry.
  • Will now test students on new topics such as trigonometry and imaginary numbers
  • Includes a no-calculator section.
Writing Test
  • 35 Minutes - 49 Questions
  • Tests grammar almost exclusively.
  • Most items presented as individual sentences.
  • 35 minutes - 44 Questions
  • Tests grammar, revision, and analytical skills.
  • All material presented in passage format.
  • Will require students to read from a variety of topics: history, social studies, science, humanities, and careers.
  • Will emphasize student command of evidence, both verbal and graphical.
Essay Test
  • Required and given at the beginning. Students take a position on assigned issue.
  • 25-minute time limit.
  • Optional and given at the end.
  • Students produce a written analysis of a provided source text.
  • 50-minute time limit.

Scoring of the SAT and ACT

At first, comparing SAT and ACT scores appears complicated. The scaled score on an SAT section ranges from 200 (lowest score) to 800 (perfect score). The scaled score on an ACT section ranges from 1 (lowest score) to 36 (perfect score).

The correct way to compare the two exams, however, is much simpler than comparing scaled scores. The important number is the percentile that corresponds with the scaled score. This will provide a true comparison of a student's performance on each exam.

Concordance Tables

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