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Katy Independent School District


SAT Redesign - FAQ's

Why is the test changing?
Overall, the changes are designed to better reflect student readiness for college, and will emphasize critical thinking and problem solving. For instance, students will need to use context clues to understand vocabulary, and they will need to apply language and math skills in questions about science, history and social studies. The math section will focus more closely on the areas deemed most important in college and in career, including algebra, data analysis and problem solving.

When is it changing?
The first administration of the redesigned SAT will be in March 2016.

What is the difference between the current and the new redesigned SAT?
The redesigned SAT will be more focused on the areas of study that have been shown by current research to matter most in college and career success. Students will be asked to support their answers with evidence, define vocabulary in context, respond to an essay prompt asking them to analyze a writer’s argument, and solve multi-step problems addressing math in real-world contexts.

How will the new SAT be scored? Are there now multiple scores?
The redesigned SAT will be scored on a 400- to 1600-point scale. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math section will each be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale. Scores for the Essay section will be reported separately. Another important change is the removal of the penalty for guessing. Students will receive points for correct answers, and not be penalized for wrong answers.

College Board will also include an enriched score report, with sub scores. This will provide more insight into student strengths and will help teachers and students identify areas where more focus is needed.

What should my student do to prepare for the redesigned SAT?

Rigorous course work will be the best preparation for the SAT. Students are encouraged to use free College Board resources to get to know the exam and to build on their preparation with targeted review and authentic practice. Free test preparation is also on the way through Khan Academy beginning June 2015. In addition, teacher and parent guides to the redesigned assessments will be available through College Board beginning summer 2015.

Is the PSAT changing? When will the new PSAT be administered?
Yes, the PSAT/NMSQT will change together with the SAT and is planned to launch in October 2015. This schedule will allow students to take the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT before the redesigned SAT.

How will this affect National Merit?
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) will continue to use the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as an initial screen of candidates for the National Merit® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. The PSAT/NMSQT redesign will mirror the redesign of the SAT.

My sophomore is currently involved in the Katy ISD National Merit Review Program. Is my child being prepared for the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT to be administered in October?

The Katy ISD National Merit Review Program uses Learning Systems to deliver the instruction to current sophomores (class of 2017). Learning Systems uses the test specifications from the redesigned SAT to design the instruction for the NMRP offered to sophomores in Katy ISD. Learning Systems is covering the format, structure, scoring and tactics for reading passages, writing/language skills and mathematics (with and without a calculator).

What does Katy ISD recommend for sophomores during this transition?

Katy ISD recommends that students in the CLASS OF 2017 take the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT in fall 2015 and the redesigned SAT in March 2016 or after. Their PSAT/NMSQT score reports will identify areas in need of improvement. In conjunction with Khan Academy personalized practice, students should be prepared for the redesigned SAT.

Which test should I take?
Both are admissions exams widely accepted by colleges and universities. Here is a description of each exam. If students have spent considerable time specifically preparing for a particular exam, this should be considered. Colleges that have accepted the SAT will most likely accept both the existing and new SAT. The existing SAT is available until early 2016.

Current SAT
(Available through early 2016)
​The Redesigned SAT
(First administration is March 2016)

​The current SAT doesn’t test logic or abstract reasoning. It tests the skills learned in school: reading, writing and math. Student knowledge and skills in these subjects are important for success in college and throughout life.

  • The Critical Reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.

  • The Writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.

  • The Mathematics section includes questions on arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.

Scoring scale:
Critical Reading: 200-800
Essay: 200-800
Mathematics: 200-800

​The redesigned SAT measures the essential knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness and success. The exam consists of up to 3 components; Reading and Writing, Mathematics and an optional Essay. The redesigned SAT will require students to analyze and use reasoning to comprehend challenging literary and informational texts, including texts in science, history, and social studies.

Scoring scale:
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200-800
Mathematics: 200-800
Essay (3 sub-scores) Reading, Analysis and Writing: 2-8 scale

​The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. An achievement test is designed to measure a student's level of skill, accomplishment, or knowledge in a specific area. The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test.


Will there be a choice to report either option?
When the College Board switches over to the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the current SAT will no longer be offered. However, some students will take the SAT before that time and then take the redesigned SAT later. Because the exam and score scale are changing, we recommend that these students send all scores, allowing colleges to use those that are most favorable to the student. Keep in mind that some colleges require students to send all scores.

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