A new version of the SAT makes writing optional and reflects student coursework

To the casual observer, the SAT looks the same — questions on math and English, an essay, a set amount of time to finish each question.

But the college entrance exam has gotten a makeover. High school students are taking a new version of the SAT, which incorporates the first changes to the test since 2005. March 5 marked the first national testing date when students could take the new SAT.

The nearly four-hour exam drops to three hours if students decline the now-optional writing portion. Critical reading and writing...

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