The SAT exam has been around for many years, but it recently (in 2016) received a major revision to make results more predictive of student success in college. There is a new emphasis on reasoning skills, as opposed to memorization of facts. The testing company also removed the penalty for guessing and made the essay portion optional, although many colleges still require it. One other important difference is that the new SAT exam is heavily aligned with the PSAT/NMSQT exam that students often take before this test.
A student’s ability to read and write is actually assessed in two separate tests on the SAT exam: the Reading test and the Writing and Language test. These scores are combined to form a total score on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.
Math ability is assessed in two separate fashions, as well. The content is the same in the two sections and covers four different broad topics in Math. The difference is that, during one section, you will have access to a calculator and for the other, you will not.
Many colleges still seek evidence of a prospective student’s ability to write. Although the essay portion of the SAT is now optional, most students take it at least once so that they will have that documentation when applying for college.