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Chris Lele

Is the New SAT Easier or Harder?

Is the new SAT harder?

This is a very common question, but it’s kind of like asking, “is easier to swim 100 meters or run a mile?” The answer depends on whether or not you can swim. You might be a long-distance runner who can’t so much as doggy paddle. For you, one mile on land will seem like nothing, whereas one mile in a pool would be a frightening thought.

So. Is the redesigned SAT easier or harder than the old SAT? The short answer: It depends on who you are.

Let’s discuss:


How has the SAT changed?

Let’s step back for a minute and look at how the redesigned SAT is different than the old SAT. Many students find the changes to be favorable (fewer tricks, no penalty for wrong answers, optional essay, etc.), while some are afraid of the new math concepts and the no calculator section (eek!).

This slideshare briefly explains the changes to the new SAT. Check it out and decide for yourself if the new SAT is harder.

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Who will find the new SAT easier?


1) Those who paid attention in class and retained much of the information

The New SAT will cover many topics that you presumably learned in high school. For instance, the math covers topics that ranged deeper into high school math than the old test did. As long you remember that information, you’ll be rewarded. That isn’t to say that all of the math material is as though it were taken straight out of a textbook. Even if you know the fundamentals, the math might still be somewhat tricky, just nowhere as tricky as the current test.

2) Those who are prepared to prep long hours

Since the new SAT is less a test of logic and your ability to avoid traps, your hard work is more likely to pay off. You aren’t as likely to feel you have hit a plateau despite many hours of study.

So what about those who did well on the old test who might not necessarily fare so well on the current test? What do they have in common?

1) The ability to see big patterns

The current/old SAT has certain patterns that you have to be able to pick up on, a certain logic that you have to master. For some students, this comes naturally; for others, this skill can be very difficult to improve on.

2) The ability to avoid traps

Again, the current/SAT has predictable traps—if you can see them. If not, you are likely to fall for similar traps despite studying the material for hours on end. For this latter group, the New SAT will likely be a welcome change.

Finally, there is the question of the scale. While the new SAT might be easier for more students, if everybody does better than the difference between a good score (meaning the number of questions you can miss) and a mediocre will be much less. With little room for error, the new SAT might be more challenging than we’ve been led to expect. I guess we’ll have to wait till May to really know.


Did you know that Magoosh offers online test prep for the new SAT exam? We also give discounts to students who purchase subscriptions for more than one exam. Learn more at


About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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