Tell Me More About the New SAT & ACT


photo: Richard Kaplan


Tell Me More About the New SAT & ACT


Divided into 4 Sections, plus an essay response:

  • Reading: 52 questions, 65 minutes
  • Writing and Language: 44 questions, 35 minutes
  • Math Test, No Calculator: 20 questions, 25 minutes
  • Math Test, Calculator: 38 questions, 55 minutes
  • Optional Essay: 50 minutes

Scoring has changed! In its attempt to emulate the ACT as closely as possible, the College Board has eliminated the penalty for guessing in the SAT. The overall score is now two scores of 800 for a total of 1600.

Reading and Writing Section:

  • Scores between 200-800 points
  • The number of questions you answer correctly correlates to a raw score chart unique to each test
  • The separate Reading and Writing scaled scores are added together and multiplied by 10. This is your total Reading and Writing Score

Math Section

  • Scores between 200-800 points
  • The number of questions you answer correctly (raw score) correlates to a scaled score chart unique to each test
  • The Math scaled score is multiplied by 10. This is your Total Math Score

Optional Essay

  • Two different people will read and score your essay.
  • Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing.
  • The two scores for each dimension are added.
  • You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.  There is no composite for this section (the three scores are provided for individual assessment and are not added together).

Divided into 4 sections, with an optional 5th:

  • English: 75 questions, 45 minutes
  • Mathematics: 60 questions, 60 minutes
  • Reading: 40 questions, 35 minutes
  • Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes

Each section is scored on a 36-point scale, where the raw score is matched against a scaled score out of 36.

Optional Essay:

  • Two different people will read and score your essay on a range of 1-6, which will be added together, on 4 different areas
  • Four domain scores from 2-12:
    • Ideas and Analysis
    • Development and Support
    • Organization
    • Language Use and Conventions

Your score will be the rounded average of the four domain scores for a single subject score between 2-12.

Learn more about Test Prep with IVY


Come in for a free test!   Use code: FIRSTTEST17

We’ve got you covered: Here are your college entrance exam basics.

How do I choose between the SAT and the ACT?

While the SAT and ACT are largely similar, here are some important differences that may affect which test you choose:

  1. The ACT includes a science section. If science and quantitative analysis (think: reading and analyzing graphs) are difficult for you, the SAT may be a better choice.
  2. Although both tests require you to adhere to a tight timeline, the ACT is definitely the tougher test if you work more slowly.
  3. The ACT allows calculators for the entire math section, while the SAT has both a ‘calculator-allowed’ and a ‘no calculator’ section. So if mental math is not your strong suit, the ACT might be more to your liking.
  4. Some colleges accept your ACT score in lieu of SAT subject tests, so if you take the ACT, you may get out of taking some extra tests.
  5. The ACT hasn’t changed for over 40 years while the SAT has changed several times, with a brand new redesign issued just last year. For this reason, many prefer the ACT. It is a tried and true test with a plethora of practice materials available. As the current SAT is brand new, the College Board is still figuring it out and the test fluctuates slightly every time it is administered.

How do I start?
With a diagnostic test. At IVY, each student starts by taking both of these standardized tests at our testing facility in Midtown Manhattan. This gives students a basis to compare how well they do in the two tests and establishes a baseline from which we can work towards a scoring goal in whichever test you choose. Many students are surprised that they feel naturally better at one test over another. That feeling of confidence is really important and we want you to take the test that makes the most sense to you. That’s something you don’t know until you try each one.

Mock testing is vital to success!
Surprise: the testing doesn’t stop with a diagnostic! Both the SAT and the ACT are long tests, clocking in at 3 hours, even without the optional essay. Because it is extremely important that students practice in the most efficient way, we strongly recommend that each student take 3-5 mock tests at our testing facility. We believe so strongly in the importance of mock testing that unlimited mock tests are included in the Test Prep Program fee.

Tutor Profile!

Chris Jacques focuses on SAT and ACT, successfully tutoring many of our students through the intricacies of both tests. In fact, he wrote our new SAT manual and coaches our Ivy tutors in test prep. Chris has been a full time tutor for over 6 years. Fearlessly, he took the new SAT in May 2016, so he can share the ins and outs of the testing process, including which testing centers are best.


“I thought I’d share the good news that my son was accepted by Harvard E/A last month. While his acceptance was most likely based on multiple factors, I am sure his strong test scores (i.e. SAT, SAT IIs, and APs) played a major part in their decision. We are extremely grateful to Chris for helping my son increase those scores dramatically.”
-Parent of 12th grader


What’s the difference between the SSAT and ISEE? Here’s your private school exam primer!

sat testing

     Thinking about independent or boarding schools, or switching from one private school to another? You need to think about and prepare for the SSAT or ISEE. What’s the difference between these two exams, and when should your child start studying? Both standardized test companies offer tests ranging from the elementary, middle and upper grades. Many schools accept either test. But contact the admissions office of each school to confirm they accept the test you prefer.

     The two tests are similar in duration and content, requiring that students master verbal reasoning, vocabulary, quantitative reasoning, math and reading. Both also demand writing samples, which they send unscored with the test results directly to the schools where your child applies.

    Some differences in content seem subtle, but can be significant for your child. Just like with the SATs and ACTs, we can advise your family on which test to take based on the kind of learner your student is. She is welcome to take each test at our midtown test center to compare. Our free diagnostic tests can help determine which test makes more sense for your child’s strengths. For example, the SSAT reports scores on two verbal and one quantitative test, while the ISEE score is comprised of 50% verbal and 50% math scores. So students strong in math sometimes prefer the ISEE, while language-oriented students sometimes opt for the SSAT. One key difference is the type of verbal questions.

     Both the SSAT and ISEE have synonyms; but they differ in that the SSAT has analogies, whereas the ISEE makes students complete sentences. These two similar standardized tests score quite differently, though. The SSAT gives 1 point for each correct answer and deducts one-quarter point for each wrong answer. But the ISEE does not penalize for wrong answers. There’s no harm in guessing. This is where tutoring can really help: learning to strategize the overall test and learning the essential process of eliminating clearly wrong answers in multiple choice and then guessing among the best options.

     Another contrast: students can take the SSAT multiple times throughout the year, including February 11, March 4, April 22, June 10 of 2017; the ISEE limits students to testing once every six months, or only once during each admissions’ cycle. Psychologically, this puts more pressure on students taking the ISEE, if they have no recourse to retake the test and improve scores. Make sure you register for these tests well in advance as the test sites fill up quickly. Registering any later than a month in advance may cost you a late registration fee.

    Our tutors have scored exceptionally well on standardized tests during their own school years. Subsequently, they are trained to teach the content and strategies for all the standardized tests. We also emphasize sensitivity to the emotional needs and learning differences of each of our students. The big question everyone asks: how much time will my child need for (ISEE or SSAT) test prep? This is, of course, relative to each student. How diligent a studier is she? What’s his baseline score? Ivy Tutors offers free mock tests to our clients at our test center. We highly recommend an early evaluation test to establish a baseline and then at least one more test later in the process to chart progress and establish a comfort level with the test-talking process. If the practice test results come close to the goal score, we suggest about a month of light review, say 1000 problems. Otherwise, if there is a large gap between the first diagnostic test and the target score, we recommend anywhere up to 4 months with 3,000 practice problems.

For more information please contact Ivy Tutors Network 800-476-0596

For more test information contact the SSAT or the Educational Records Bureau directly. SSATB or call 609-683-4440   ISEE or call 800-989-3721