Polishing Your Skills with Free New SAT Practice Tests
January 2016 has come and gone, which means one thing for you SAT test-takers out there: we’re in the brave new world of the “new” SAT (which will probably stop being called that one of these days). Starting in March 2016, we’re looking at an entirely new test. So throw your older sister’s prep books out the window and dive into the world of new SAT practice tests.
Because the test is so new, most of the resources you’ll find to practice for it will be online. In fact, Khan Academy has paired up with the College Board (they’re the test creators) to offer free online practice tests for the new SAT. There are four full exams on the Khan Academy site, which can also be found on the College Board site. After you’ve taken an exam or two, you can then sharpen your skills with practice in different areas with resources on Khan Academy’s site and elsewhere.
Why Take a New SAT Practice Test?
Well, particularly if you’ve taken the old SAT, you’re going to want to know what you’ll be looking at when you sit down in that exam room in March (or even later). Key changes to the SAT include a focus on “Words in Context” instead of simple vocabulary questions, so even the most erudite (old SAT vocab word!) of you will want to sharpen your skills on deducing (new SAT word in context type) the meaning of a word from its context. (More on this here!)
The new SAT will also ask you to look at evidence, whether that’s in paired passages, in the form of reading passages paired with graphs or data, or in an essay analyzing particular source material. You’ll also take a look at Founding Documents and those from the Great Global Conversation. And when it comes to math, don’t worry about that protractor: the new SAT focuses on math that’s used “disproportionately in a wide range of majors and careers,” in the College Board’s terms.
What that means for you as a test-taker is that you’ll:
- want to get familiar with the new format of the test;
- make sure you understand the timing of the sections as they now occur;
- identify the problem types—old AND new—at which you excel;
- identify the problem types—old AND new—at which you need work.
What’s the Best Way to Prepare?
Take a free practice test. Examine your results closely. In fact, it’s a good idea to spend at least as much time examining your results as you did taking the test. Why? Well, did you get a question right because you knew the answer, or because you were guessing? Did you get a question wrong because you filled in the wrong bubble? (Practice tests help a lot with this latter problem, by the way!) After you’ve examined your results, do some practice in your weak areas and take another test. Lather, rinse, repeat.
While free practice resources for the new SAT may not be as easy to find once you’ve finished the work available on Khan Academy’s site, don’t worry! There are plenty of other online resources–including this blog!–both free and low-cost, that will allow you to target your weaker areas and keep your strong areas strong. That first step, though? Go find a free test and take it—what have you got to lose?