A Few Sample SAT Questions From the New Exam

PHOTO: The SAT exam has new questions.
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The College Board released on Wednesday sample questions showing the biggest changes to the SAT college admissions test in a decade. The draft questions are intended to give the public a sampling of the changes for the spring 2016 exam, giving high school students time to prepare for changes like an optional essay, limited use of a calculator, and no more "obscure" vocabulary words.

The CollegeBoard emphasizes that these are just draft questions and "are not a full reflection of what will be tested," the nonprofit says.

"Actual items used on the exam are going through extensive reviews and pre-testing to help ensure they are clear, fair and measure what is intended," the CollegeBoard said in its released materials.

Read More: College Board Announces Big Changes for Students Taking the SAT

Here are some excerpts of the new SAT questions (scroll through for the answers):

Content: Careers

Sample Writing and Language Set

Students must make revising and editing decisions in the context of a passage on a careers-related topic.

Questions are based on the following passage and supplementary material.

A Life in Traffic

A subway system is expanded to provide service to a growing suburb. A bike-sharing program is adopted to encourage nonmotorized transportation. Stoplight timing is coordinated to alleviate rush hour traffic jams in a congested downtown area. When any one of these changes (1) occur, it is likely the result of careful analysis conducted by transportation planners.

The work of transportation planners generally includes evaluating current transportation needs, assessing the effectiveness of existing facilities, and improving those facilities or (2) they design new ones. Most transportation planners work in or near cities, but some are employed in rural areas. Say, for example, a large factory is built on the outskirts of a small town. Traffic to and from that location would increase at the beginning and end of work shifts. The transportation planner’s job might involve conducting a traffic count to determine the daily number of vehicles traveling on the road to the new factory. If analysis of the traffic count indicates that there is more traffic than the (3) current road as it is designed at this time can efficiently accommodate, the transportation planner might recommend widening the road to add another lane...


B) occur, they are

C) occurs, they are

D) occurs, it is


B) to design

C) designing

D) design


B) current design of the road right now

C) road as it is now currently designed

D) current design of the road

Answers to Sample Writing and Language Set

Question 1

content: Conventions of Usage / Agreement / Pronoun-antecedent agreement, Subject-verb agreement

focus: Students must maintain grammatical agreement between pronoun and antecedent and between subject and verb.

key: D

Choice D is the best answer because it maintains agreement between pronoun (“it”) and antecedent (“any one”) and between subject (“any one”) and verb (“occurs”).

Question 2

content: Sentence Structure / Sentence formation / Parallel structure

focus: Students must maintain parallel structure.

key: C

Choice C is the best answer because “designing” maintains parallelism with “evaluating,” “assessing,” and “improving.”

Question 3

content: Effective Language Use / Concision

focus: Students must improve the economy of expression.

key: D

Choice D is the best answer because it offers a clear and concise wording without redundancy.

Heart of Algebra Sample 1

Calculator Usage: Calculator

Aaron is staying at a hotel that charges $99.95 per night plus tax for a room. A tax of 8% is applied to the room rate, and an additional onetime untaxed fee of $5.00 is charged by the hotel. Which of the following represents Aaron’s total charge, in dollars, for staying x nights?

A) (99.95 + 0.08x) + 5

B) 1.08(99.95x) + 5

C) 1.08(99.95x + 5)

D) 1.08(99.95 + 5)x

Answers to Heart of Algebra Sample 1


This problem asks students to interpret a situation and formulate a linear expression that represents the situation mathematically. The construction of mathematical models that represent real-world scenarios is a critical skill.

Choice B is correct. The total charge that Aaron will pay is the room rate, the 8% tax on the room rate, and a fixed fee. If Aaron stayed x nights, then the total charge is (99.95x + 0.08 × 99.95x) + 5, which can be rewritten as 1.08(99.95x) + 5.

Calculator Usage: Calculator

Heart of Algebra Sample 2

The gas mileage for Peter’s car is 21 miles per gallon when the car travels at an average speed of 50 miles per hour. The car’s gas tank has 17 gallons of gas at the beginning of a trip. If Peter’s car travels at an average speed of 50 miles per hour, which of the following functions f models the number of gallons of gas remaining in the tank t hours after the trip begins?

A) f(t) = 17 - 21/50t

B) f(t) = 17 - 50t/21

C) f(t) = (17-21t)/50

D) f(t) = (17-50t)/21

Answers to Heart of Algebra Sample 2


In this question, students must understand that the number of gallons of gas in the tank is a function of time. The core skill assessed here is the ability to translate from a real-world situation into a mathematical model.

Choice B is correct. Since Peter’s car is traveling at an average speed of 50 miles per hour and the car’s gas mileage is 21 miles per gallon, the number of gallons of gas used each hour can be found by (50 miles/ 1 hour) x (1 gallon / 21 miles ) = 50/21.

The car uses 50/21 gallons of gas per hour, so it uses (50/21) gallons of (50/21)t gallons of gas in t hours. The car’s gas tank has 17 gallons of gas at the beginning of the trip. Therefore, the function that models the number of gallons of gas remaining in the tank t hours after the trip begins is f(t) = 17 - (50t / 21).

Calculator Usage: No calculator

Heart of Algebra Sample 5

4x - y = 3y + 7

x + 8y = 4

Based on the system of equations above, what is the value of the product xy?

A) - 3/2

B) 1/4

C) 1/2

D) 11/9

Answers to Heart of Algebra Sample 5


This question rewards fluency in solving pairs of simultaneous linear equations. Rewriting equations in a way that allows the student to find the values of variables individually is the approach to take here. Students who lack facility in this area of the curriculum may resist just diving in, making success on the item less likely.

Choice C is correct. There are several solution methods possible, but all involve persevering in solving for the two variables and calculating the product. For example, combining like terms in the first equation yields 4x – 4y = 7 and then multiplying that by 2 gives 8x – 8y = 14. When this transformed equation is added to the second given equation, the y-terms are eliminated, leaving an equation in just one variable: 9x = 18, or x = 2.

Substituting 2 for x in the second equation (one could use either to solve) yields 2 + 8y = 4, which gives y = 1/4 . Finally, the product xy is 2 x 1/4 = 1/2.

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