Put it in writing

SAT changes emphasize writing, ditch analogies

SAT changes emphasize writing, ditch analogies

August 16, 2005|by ANA JANTZ

The school year is approaching, and with it comes the SAT - a significantly revised one.

The old SAT had a math section and an English grammar section, each worth 800 points. The entire test was made of multiple-choice questions.

The new SAT has an extra 800 points of writing, short reading passages, algebra II questions and an essay to top it off. Analogies have been dropped. Those are the obvious differences.

The new test might not be so bad after all. The new SAT is an achievement test, not an aptitude test, which is more of a difference than one might think. The new SAT is designed to see how much you've learned, instead of how well you take tests, so studying is bound to pay off more.


Oh, and guess what? This test was designed to help girls. Since boys do better on average in math, SAT designers added the extra writing section to balance things out. Sorry, guys!

Now college administrators have to rethink how strongly they will weigh scores from the new test in the admissions process and whether it will work as well as its predecessor.

Many colleges and universities are taking a wait-and-see attitude as the feedback on this new examination continues to unfold, says Kathleen Berard, vice president and dean of enrollment at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa.

Don't worry, though. Berard says the SAT is only one part of the admissions process. Taking challenging classes in high school is still important, and many of these classes will help raise your SAT scores.

Prepping for the test

Now we approach the tough issue: How do you prepare for this SAT? There are dozens of options out there - books, software, gadgets, online courses, online tutoring, face-to-face tutoring and classes available in high school.

The least expensive of these options are all about self-motivation, like taking SAT practice tests online and studying a preparation book.

If you're not the self-motivated type or are interested in more interactive learning, many local high schools offer classes for SAT preparation. Tutors - a more expensive route - teach group courses or private lessons and will happily send you brochures. Some are accessible online.

If you have money to spend but not enough for a tutor, you might want to try one of my favorite SAT-prep tools, a small, portable gizmo called the Franklin Princeton Review SAT Pocket Prep. While it's not quite like playing your Nintendo DS, it does include SAT practice tests that are instantly graded, shows how to fix wrong answers and do them right next time, provides tips on taking the SAT and even includes a mail-in writing section.

If you think portability is over-rated, you might want to try software programs on your home computer, which include many of the same features.

Be careful what you study with. Many SAT-prep materials are now obsolete due to the test changes. Material is available everywhere, at your local bookstore, software store, online or at school.

Prepare for the SAT with these resources

Web sites

- The College Board at

- Peterson's Educational Portal at


- Kaplan at

- Princeton Review at


- Kaplan SAT/ACT/PSAT 2006 Gold Edition by Topics Entertainment

- Wordsmart vocabulary


- "The Official SAT Study Guide: For the New SAT" by College Board

- "Cracking the New SAT" by Adam Robinson, John Katzman and Princeton Review staff

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