Must Read: Student Reactions Following First Administration of the New SAT®

Majority of SAT-takers found content to reflect what they’re learning in school Students relying less on paid prep materials, more on free resources

Today hundreds of thousands of students across the country took the first national administration of the redesigned SAT®. Changes to the test include:

  • A focus on the areas of math that matter most
  • An emphasis on more relevant vocabulary words
  • No penalty for guessing
  • An optional essay

The College Board conducted a survey of 8,089 students who completed the March SAT administration earlier today. We compared this year’s results for some of the same questions to the responses of 6,494 examinees during the identical timeframe after the March 2015 SAT administration. Below you’ll find student reactions to test content, information on how they prepared for the test, and some fun facts about their test day experience.

Test Content

The majority of students had positive reactions to taking the new SAT.

  • 71% of students said the test reflected what they’re learning in school.
  • By a 6 to 1 margin, students said they preferred the format of the new SAT over the previous version of the test.
  • 75% of students said the Reading Test was the same as or easier than they expected.
  • 80% of students said the vocabulary on the test would be useful to them later in life, compared with 55% in March 2015.
  • 59% of students said the Math section tests the skills and knowledge needed for success in college and career.


As part of the test’s redesign, the College Board partnered with Khan Academy® to offer free, personalized test practice to all students. Since the resources launched in June 2015, more than 900,000 students have taken advantage of them.

  • Compared with March 2015 SAT administration, there was a 19% decrease in the number of students that paid for test prep resources.
  • Nearly half of all examinees who took the SAT today prepared with Khan Academy.
  • 98% of examinees who prepared with Khan Academy found it extremely, very, or somewhat helpful.

Fun Facts

Want to know what students ate before taking the test? Here’s what they had to say:

  • “3 hot cakes with maple syrup, one sausage patty, and a hash brown.” –Nhan, 16, NC
  • “Sunny side up eggs with cayenne pepper on oat nut bread toast.” –Alex, 17, PA
  • “An English muffin with butter and peanut butter and a banana with coffee.” –Stephanie, 18, PA
  • Avocado on corn tortilla, and a pumpkin protein bar.” –Kelly, 17, IL

Here’s how students said they’re celebrating after completing the SAT:

  • “I performed a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s hit single ‘Think (Freedom).’” –Matthew, 17, PA
  • “I’m going to treat myself with ice cream.”–Ramis, 16, FL
  • “Order Chinese food and go rock climbing.” –Lawrence, 16, VA

Many SAT-takers listened to music to focus before the test. Here are their favorite songs:

  1. “Work” by Rihanna

  2. “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber

  3. “7 Years” by Lukas Graham

  4. “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots

  5. “Pillow Talk” by Zayn

  6. “Sorry” by Justin Bieber

  7. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

  8. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

  9. “River Flows In You” by Yiruma

In Their Own Words

I felt I was academically ready and knew the format and general difficulty of the test.

Samuel 17, NJ

I would describe it as taking any test that you would take at school. It’s also like taking the PSAT (NMSQT).

Jocelyn 17, IN

Khan Academy was literally a godsend. I have never really been a math-centric person, and so pre-calculus is a little rough. I had already been using Khan Academy and when I hooked up my PSAT (NMSQT) scores it showed me all of the math I had to review.

Nicole, 17, NH

I felt like I had a good amount of time to completely read through the passages and select my answers as well as review some of the ones that were difficult for me.

Elizabeth, 17, WA

Additional information about the SAT can be found at sat.org/new. For questions, please contact [email protected]