How the Old SAT Compares to the New SAT

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

The SAT exam is undergoing a major overhaul. What a difference a couple of months make! If you take the SAT in January 2016 and then again in March 2016, the exams you face will not be identical twins. Like any family members, they may share the arch of an eyebrow or the shape of the nose, but otherwise they’re quite different.

Check out the table for a side-by-side comparison of the old and new exams.

Old SAT versus New SAT
Critical Reading: 67 questions, 70 minutes Reading: 52 questions, 65 minutes
Essay: Mandatory, 25 minutes, respond to a prompt with your own
point of view and evidence
Essay: Optional, 50 minutes, analyze writing techniques in a
Multiple-Choice Writing: 49 questions, 60 minutes Multiple-Choice Writing and Language: 44 questions, 35
Mathematics: 54 questions, 70 minutes, divided into 3
Calculators allowed for all 3 sections.
Mathematics: 57 questions, 80 minutes, divided into 2
Calculators allowed for 1 section and not for the other.
Multiple-Choice and Grid-In Scoring: 1 point for each correct
answer, 1/4-point deduction for each wrong multiple-choice answer.
(No penalty for incorrect grid-in answers.)
Multiple-Choice and Grid-In Scoring: 1 point for each correct
answer (and one question worth 4 points), no deduction for wrong
Multiple-Choice Format: 5 possible answers Multiple-Choice Format: 4 possible answers
Score Types: 200–800 points each for Critical Reading,
Writing, and Mathematics (total: 600–2400 points)
Score Types: 200–800 points for a combination of the
Reading and Writing and Language sections. Another 200–800
points for Mathematics, for a total of 400–1600 for the
entire exam, separate essay score, cross-test subscores for
analysis in history and science, section subscores for various