Math Format Comparison: New SAT vs Old SAT (Changes You Must Know)

The new SAT, starting in March 2016. As of latest update, The new SAT (2016) is changing drastically from the old SAT. The test design has been simplified when compared to Old SAT. In this post, we will show changes to the overall Scholastic Aptitude Test and individual aspects of the SAT Exam in a series of charts.

New SAT vs Old SAT

What’s the main difference between the New SAT and Old SAT?

The New SAT is substantially different from the old version of the exam. Actually the new test will be a little bit shorter while compared to old one. Scoring will revert to the classic 1600 scale: 200-800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 200-800 for Math. The Essay score will contain 3 scores ranging from 2-8, one each for Reading, Analysis and Writing, but will not be included in the 1600-based score.

Fast Summary: The Main Differences

Timing3 Hours 45 Minutes3 Hours (+50 minute optional essay)
  • Critical Reading: 200-800
  • Writing: 200-800
  • Math: 200-800
  • Essay (included in Writing score)
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200-800
  • Math: 200-800
  • Optional Essay (separately scored)
Guessing Penalty1/4 guessing penaltyno guessing penalty
Scoring600 – 2400400 – 1600
Subscore and Cross-test Scores available

Also See

New SAT Exam Pattern

Download SAT Syllabus PDF

Math: Old SAT vs New SAT

Math now has calculator-allowed and calculator-prohibited sections, and a much greater prominence on algebra, practical problem solving and some more advanced math topics. For better reference follow Syllabus and Exam pattern provided above links.

Section ComponentsOld SAT MathNew SAT Math
Total time70 minutes80 minutes
Sections3 (calculator use permitted)2 (one with calculator use permitted, one with no calculator)
Grading scale200-800 points200-800 points
Questions54 questions total

44 multiple-choice

10 fill-in-grid

One 16-question section

One 18-question section

One 20-question section

58 questions total

20 no-calculator questions

38 calculator questions

45 multiple-choice questions

13 grid-in questions

Skills coveredNumbers and operations, 11-13 questions

Algebra and functions, 19-21 questions

Geometry and measurement, 14-16 questions

Data analysis and statistics, 6-7 questions

Heart of Algebra, 19 questions

(linear equations, systems of linear equations, and inequalities)

Problem Solving and Data Analysis, 17 questions

(ratios, proportions, percentages, units, quantitative data, probabilities)

Passport to Advanced Math, 16 questions

(equivalent algebraic expressions, quadratic equations, exponential functions, other nonlinear equations and functions)

Additional Topics in Math, 6 questions

(basic trigonometry, geometry)

The best way to understand what this Scholastic Aptitude Test is about is to visit the College Board’s website (


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