While the digital deployment and multistage adaptive aspects of the new SAT and PSAT certainly draw attention as the biggest changes to these tests, one other revision deserves just as much attention.
The SAT has always tested reading, and the digital SAT continues to refine just what aspects of reading matter most in the current educational environment. As usual, this portion of the test looks very different from its most immediate predecessor. Gone is the emphasis on long reading passages, linked evidence questions, and the dreaded historical documents. To be fair, most test takers won’t be sorry to see those elements go.
What does the digital SAT offer instead? Expect questions evaluating many of the same fundamental reading skills in some new ways:
Questions focusing on the enduring themes of thesis, structure, and both close and inferential reading will be attached to reading passages of roughly 100 words each. Each passage supports only one question. If you like the sound of that, brace yourself for the next piece of news: vocabulary is back.
Those classic SAT words, surgically excised from the most recent version of the test, now proliferate in the answer choices of Words in Context questions–a new twist on the old Sentence Completions. Get those index cards ready, because vocabulary building matters once again.
Another massive change comes with the combination of Reading and Writing into one integrated section rather than two separate ones. Digital SAT Writing also abandons long, multi-question passages for standalone passages and questions. Grammar and writing topics remain generally the same with a notable emphasis on some skills to the exclusion of others.
All in all, the dSAT Reading and Writing section Content Domains and Question Distributions paint a picture of the newest priorities in college and career literacy.
WHAT’S THE SAME?
The SAT still tests both fundamental reading skills and conventions of standard written English including grammar, usage, punctuation, and rhetoric.
The dSAT dispenses with many of the elements that defined the last iteration of the test in favor of a short-passage structure ideal for a computer-based test. Tier 3 vocabulary has increased in importance.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
While students may recognize many of the same skills being tested on the dSAT, they should definitely familiarize themselves with the new structure in advance. Reading and Writing on the digital SAT remains a worthy challenge of today’s most essential verbal skills.