SAT Changes

Students and parents should be aware that the following changes are taking place to the SAT test.

For international students, changes started from March 2023. The new format should allow for more test dates for international test takers. All test centers will administer the digital PSAT worldwide from Fall 2023 (October 2023). As of Spring 2024, US test centers will start administering the digital SAT.

The test is a digital-only test offered via the College Board app; it is 2 hours 14 minutes and remains out of a 400-1600 total score, but now offers no subscores or cross-test scores. Superscoring is expected to continue and encompass both paper and digital versions. While many colleges are now test-optional, the SAT scores remain an important part of a competitive application.

The new test is stage adaptive, so student performance in the first stage determines which second stage question sets are offered (effectively capping the difficulty/ total score). The test now has two sections/ two stages for each subject: Reading & Writing (32 min, 27 questions), Math (35 minutes, 22 questions); students will be allotted slightly more time per question than on the old exam.

Students may be excited to hear that all math is calculator-allowed now and a graphic calculator will be built into the testing app, as well as a timer, a reference sheet, and a flagging tool. Each section will have 4 unscored experimental questions. There will be one question per reading passage, shorter reading passages and fewer math word problems. This is good news for students who struggled with the length of the old test!

Students will still test at school or testing site, and eventually greater flexibility on times may be offered. Scratch paper will still be provided, but the biggest change is that students are expected to bring their own fully powered devices (sites are not obligated to provide power). Students need to carefully check if their device meets all requirements before their test date. Sites must provide power to students with extended time accommodations and existing accommodations will be maintained.

Test scores will be available within a few days after the exam, but students will no longer have access to their questions/answers; in fact questions may be re-used as each student is generated a unique individual exam by the algorithm. This means fewer updated practice materials will be available.

A limited number of practice exams will be made available on the College Board’s Bluebook practice app. Our expert tutors are available to help students adjust to these changes and make the most of their revision time to maximize their score.

IB MYP English Skills Explained

In a previous article, we provided a brief breakdown of the necessary skills that students of MYP English need to have a firm grasp on in order to ace the syllabus and transition smoothly into the DP. This article will provide a deeper insight into each of the Learning Objectives so that you can better understand what each of them means and what the IB syllabus is looking for.

Objective A: Analysing

  • By the end of the MYP English curriculum, students will be expected to be able to analyse content, context, structure and language as used in a text. They should also be able to comment on the effects of the author’s choice on an audience and to justify such literary opinions with examples, explanations and literary terminology. This is a key skill that ties directly to the IB DP syllabus, as language analysis is a core skill required. If you find your child struggling with identifying and commenting on textual features (which is not atypical of kids), you may consider engaging an IB English tutor to support your child so they can have a smoother transition to DP.

Objective B: Organisation

  • This is about effective essay organisation. While this pertains to structuring and referencing as appropriate, it is also about presenting ideas in a coherent and logical way. While most kids at this stage do not usually have a problem with paragraphing and simple structural features like writing an introduction and a conclusion, we have encountered quite a few students who struggle with developing a logical progression in their ideas, leading to less effective transitioning between ideas. If your child is struggling with essay writing, it is a good idea to hire an IB English tutor to support them so they can familiarise themselves with this skill before transitioning to DP.

Objective C: Producing text

  • Writing skills in the MYP syllabus are about engaging with the topic in a creative way, and this extends to being able to select relevant details and examples to develop ideas and arguments. Other skills include making stylistic choices, both literary and visual, to demonstrate awareness of purpose and audience. If your child is having trouble coming up with creative writing ideas or having their own opinion on social issues and current affairs, it would be a good idea to engage an IB English tutor to broaden the scope of their writing.

Objective D: Using language

  • This covers both writing and speaking skills. If you find that your child is frequently marked down on school work for technical mistakes in language usage or finds it difficult to write with more flair, you may want to consider having support from an IB English tutor.

Our qualified IB English tutors here at Aegis Advisors are experts in the curriculum and have a proven track record of helping students excel in the PYP, MYP and DP. Classes can take place at our centre, online, or at the student’s home. Private one-on-one, semi-private, and group courses are available. Contact us today to learn how our qualified IB English tutors can help you succeed in your coursework and exams, and to help your child in facilitating a smooth and seamless transition from MYP to DP.

IB DP English Literature Explained

The IB English Literature syllabus can be difficult to understand. Here’s a rough breakdown of what it requires:

  1. Read!
    1. You will be required to study 9 or 13 works, depending on whether you are doing SL or HL. Some will have to be translated works, while others will be written originally in English. They will vary in form as well, so for example you might be studying a poetry collection and a play! This is to make sure you are reading a wide range of literary forms from different periods and cultures.
  2. Individual Oral (30% for SL, 20% for HL)
    1. You have to make a 10-minute oral response comparing one work in English with another work that’s translated. The key is to identify a global issue that is common to the two works and base your analysis around that. Then there will be a 5-minute Q&A session with your teacher.
    2. The IO is a challenge to prepare for – the analysis is tough enough, and you will have to rehearse your speaking as well. If you think you need help, consider having an IB English tutor to guide you in preparing for it. After all it does take up a significant chunk of your grade despite not being a written paper!
  3. Paper 1 (35% for both SL and HL)
    1. This is the unseen paper. You have to answer one question out of two for SL, and both questions for HL. It will likely be one prose and one poetry, but according to the syllabus you may be given drama as well! A lot of students find that they’re stuck at a certain grade for Paper 1 practices and cannot seem to move up. It might be a good idea to engage an IB English tutor at this stage to give you more guidance! [You can also read our article here to learn more about scoring higher in Paper 1]
  4. Paper 2 (35% for SL, 25% for HL )
    1. This is the comparative essay, and the format is the same for SL and HL. You have to choose to answer one question out of four, and to refer to two works you have studied. The questions will be phrased in a very generic manner, and the key would be to make sure to frame your analysis to address the question. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with the discussion in class, having an IB English tutor would help you get back on track.
  5. HL Essay (20% for HL)
    1. As the title suggests, only HL students are required to write this piece of formal essay of 1200-1500 words. You will have to choose your own line of inquiry (i.e. phrase your own question), and to dig into the deep depths of one of the works studied. There are many skills involved – from framing the question to organising your argument, everything will have to be done with care as your teacher will be scrutinising your work in detail! To make sure you are producing your best work, consider getting help from an experienced IB English tutor to guide you along this coursework to ease the stress (and possible confusion!).

We understand that the IB Literature syllabus can be difficult to understand. Apart from a breakdown of the elements, you may want to look into the marking criteria for each element as well to understand what examiners are looking for. If you find yourself struggling with any of the elements or need more guidance with a particular work that your teacher has assigned, contact us so that we can arrange you to work with an IB English tutor to shed more light on how you can do better.

Young Post and Cindy׳s SCMP Interview

Thank you South China Morning Post SCMP for featuring our co-founder Cindy Hah as a game changer! Congratulations to all of our students who have been accepted through early applications!! Job well done!


Aegis Advisors Collaborates with Yale-NUS

Aegis Advisors’ lead advisors Dan Chen and Jennifer Liu were invited to speak at the Yale-NUS Asia Pacific Model United Nations Conference on current university trends and admissions processes.