Confused by a section on the spring 2014 SAT?

If your student took the SAT recently, he or she may have noticed that one section on the test seemed very different from the others.  This section may have included math, reading, or grammar content in a different format from the rest of the SAT.  For instance, the reading section might have asked the student to justify his answers, or the grammar section possibly included longer paragraphs with underlined phrases or sentences that needed editing.

We wanted to respond to some parents’ concerns and let you know that these SAT sections were most likely experimental.   Each SAT includes one experimental section which doesn’t count towards students’ scores and is used by the College Board to gather data on students’ responses to the problems.  In the past, the experimental section has had the same format as the rest of the test, so test-takers haven’t been able to tell which section is experimental.  However, now that the College Board has announced the redesigned SAT to be released in spring 2016, it appears that new question formats are being tested on the experimental sections of current SATs.

It’s important for students to realize that any section on the SAT with a drastically different question format they haven’t encountered before likely will not count toward their score on the test.  Of course, we encourage students to take every section seriously and not to try to guess which section is experimental.  But it’s almost certainly the case that an unusual section will not affect their score, and students shouldn’t let it distract them from a strong performance on the rest of the test.

The redesigned SAT will first be administered in the spring of 2016, so it will primarily affect current rising sophomores and younger students.  For more information about the SAT redesign and sample problems, please take a look at the College Board’s site Delivering Opportunity.

Rest assured that AJ Tutoring is staying abreast of the latest updates on the SAT, and we’ll be updating our materials to reflect the changes to the test in 2016.  We’re currently monitoring the College Board’s SAT information releases, and our directors and tutors are taking the actual SAT to preview the upcoming changes.  We’ll keep you updated on the SAT redesign as more information becomes available, but for the next academic year (2014-15), the SAT will keep the same format.

If you have any questions about the experimental section or the SAT redesign, or if your student would like help reviewing for the fall SAT or ACT, please reach out to us at (650) 331-3251 or via email at

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