I’ve been receiving reports from a bunch of March SAT takers (here are two examples) that they had strange experimental sections, most notably an 18-question reading/writing section that might be a preview of the new Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section that will appear on the new SAT in 2016. There were some reports of strange sections appearing on the January SAT as well.

Of course, the College Board needs to start testing this material out on students before it goes live—that’s one of the important uses of the experimental section. But for students who have been preparing faithfully for the current test, material that’s so far out of line from the norm can be very disorienting. If you’re taking any SAT between now and March 2016, you need to be mentally prepared for the possibility that your experimental section on test day will look nothing like any practice test you’ve taken. Don’t let it throw you off your game.

Note that I am very much not saying that you should intentionally tank a section if you suspect it’s experimental. There’s always a risk that you could be wrong, and that would suck. I’m just saying that you should not panic if you come across a section that looks structurally different from any section you’ve seen in your myriad practice tests. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t well-prepared. In fact, recognizing that something is amiss is an indicator that you are well-prepared. So take a deep breath, go with the flow, and do your best on every section you face.

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