New SAT in Michigan: What Kids Can Expect

The state of Michigan now administers the new SAT as part of its testing for high school juniors. Study up on what changes teens need to be prepared for.

Catch you later, ACT. Michigan’s 11th graders will be taking a fresh test this spring. The redesigned SAT replaces the ACT as Michigan’s designated college entrance exam, administered to high school juniors as part of the Michigan Merit Examination, or MME. The new SAT, which debuts March 5 (it’s on April 12 in Michigan), “is much more like the ACT” than its predecessor, says Tommy Scott, director of education at Sylvan Learning Center in Livonia – but there are definitely differences. Here’s a look.

Length. “The test lengths are a little bit longer than the ACT,” Scott says. The ACT was two hours and 55 minutes with a 40-minute optional essay, while the new SAT is three hours with a 50-minute optional essay. Plus, the new SAT has 154 questions compared to 215 on the ACT.

Sections. Essays aside, the ACT had reading, English, math and science portions, while the SAT has reading, writing/language and math. The major differences? The SAT’s reading test is more “evidence based,” Scott says, meaning less skimming and more emphasis on critical reading of passages ranging from scientific to more lit-style selections (it’s 12 questions more than the ACT’s, but 30 minutes longer). Here’s a doozy: The SAT’s 80-minute math section is split into two sections – and during one, there’s no calculator allowed. “I don’t think we were quite as prepared for that,” Scott says, noting it’s a variance from ACT.

Scoring. Gone is the ACT’s 1-36 scale. Score 400-1600 points on the new SAT (without essay). There’s no penalty for guessing, either.

Tips. “Get a jump start on it now,” Scott suggests. Students taking the SAT this April and beyond should sign up for a prep class at a learning center like Sylvan to start tackling the subjects and strategies and taking practice tests. Learn all about the test at

Get ready

Test dates: The new SAT rolls out March 5, but the in-school test day for Michigan 11th graders is April 12 (makeup April 26).
What you’ll need: photo ID, pencils, calculator and snack. Scott suggests knowing exactly where you need to show up on test day.
Free prep: Take practice tests and find lots of tips at – and download the SAT’s Daily Practice app at

Sign your teen up for an SAT prep course in metro Detroit to help them get prepared!


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