Sep 24th, 2014

Can’t get no SAT-isfaction

The time of year is upon us once more. Fall. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Sweaters. Boots. School. And oh, the SAT test. As the deadlines for Early Decision and Early Action application to High Point University are rapidly approaching, it is vital for the class of 2015 to get their SAT scores in ASAP. And for the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 gearing up to take it in the next year or so, it’s always good to be prepared and ahead of the game, especially considering the growing competitive nature of college acceptance.

Maybe you’ve heard, or maybe you haven’t, but the College Board announced earlier this year that they will be making some significant changes to the SAT with the goal of improving the test in order to accurately examine the skills of students. So, here are some things you might need to know.


To start, here is the timeline of SAT changes;

October 2014: Last current PSAT

October 2015: First new PSAT

January 2016: Final current SAT

March 2016: New SAT begins

*The classes of 2015 and 2016 won’t be directly affected. But the class of 2017 and younger will all take the new SAT.


Major changes to the SAT:

  1. “SAT words”- If you’re in school, you’ve heard them. Those ridiculous vocabulary words you are writing on flashcards for what seems like the rest of your life, that you will probably never EVER use again (Abjure? Cacophony? Ebullient?). Exactly. Good news! The new test will eliminate questions and words that students will likely never use. Instead, the reading and writing sections will be combined into “evidence-based reading and writing.” Basically, getting rid of the horrid sentence completion. Goodbye, outdated complicated vocab. Hello, new test!
  2. Speaking of critical reading and writing. Those used to be two different sections. But now it’s just one! This section will require students to write arguments based on what’s called “evidence-based reading”.
  3. Oh, and the essay is optional. Perfect scores are going back to 1600.
  4. The Math Section *insert the major sigh here*- We know the math section is, for a large majority of students, the most dreaded part of the test. But now the math section is getting SHORTER, covering FEWER topics. However, those remaining questions will require more of a firm and in-depth analysis. But, hey. Quality over quantity and all of that.
  5. Scoring- They used to tell you if you didn’t know an answer, SKIP IT, and NEVER guess because you would be marked of ¼ of a point for every incorrect answer. Now, there won’t be a wrong-answer penalty! #winning

Check here for a full list of changes and the new scoring system.

High Point University gives prospective students the advantage of super scoring — basically, if you take the SAT more than once, we combine your highest score in math and your highest score in reading from all your tests to get your composite SAT score. HPU does not factor the essay portion of the SAT into your score (no worries, classes of 2016 and 2017!) For students who are strong writers and feel that is their best subject, the HPU application on the CommonApp is your place to shine and demonstrate your writing skills.


Now that you know all about the changes to the new test, what kinds of things can you be doing to prepare?


  1. Study, don’t cram. Yes, we know it seems obvious. But studying a little bit at a time over a longer period of time will help you retain information. Then you are learning the information not just memorizing. That will even help you once you get to college.

(Plus, studying in advance helps avoid this)

Bonus: Take full length practice tests here.


  1. Get directions to the testing site the day before, just to be safe. Not knowing where you are going is not only stressful but if you are even just a minute late, you won’t be eligible to sit for the test at that time and will have to reschedule. Also, you will have gotten up on a Saturday early for nothing.


  1. Get your answers back! Did you know that you can buy your answers back from the College Board for just $10? Then, you can see exactly what you did and did not do well, and better prepare to ace the test a second time!File:Incredibles-Totally-Wicked.gif



  1. Set an alarm, or two. Being late to this test is not an option.



  1. Eat. Real food. Nutritious food, before you go into your test. Not only will it help you better focus, but having your stomach growling in the silent test room could potentially be really embarrassing.

  1. Remember to turn off your phone.



  1. Do your best! Yes, it seems like another cliché, but honestly it is so important. It’s okay to be nervous, being nervous means that you are invested, that you care. Just take a couple deep breaths because you have got this! 


If you have any questions about taking the SATs, High Point University’s requirements or any step in the HPU application process, please reach out to our admissions counselors — we are here for you!


Jordan CoakleyJordan Coakley

Admissions Counselor, Connecticut