Section Number 5 on the SAT

Yes, the SAT has 4 sections (plus the Essay), but most students now will also be confronted with a section number 5 on the SAT.

Imagine pushing your way through a grueling exam and expecting to be done when…surprise! Here is another section.

The History of the Fifth section

When the SAT changed formats (again) in 2016, students were told that the test would be 4 sections and an optional essay. However, those students who elected not to do the essay section were given a 5th section of multiple choice questions.

Did these questions count?

Was it fair?

Why was is such a secret?

The College Board was cagey about the fifth section. They insisted that any questions completed could count towards a student’s final score. More recently section number 5 on the SAT has been given to all test takers regardless of whether they were writing the essay.

Differing opinions on Section 5

Some pundits insisted that students take the College Board’s statements at face value and that the questions could be used as part of the score. However, others insisted because the 5th section was only a selection of questions it would be very difficult to consistently swap out questions on different tests (some Math, others Reading) and maintain the scoring.

So who is right?

Clarity on Section 5

First, the questions on the SAT need to be tested to ensure that they are accurate and balanced. How does the College Board do that? Simple. The College Board gives potential questions to thousands of students and then analyzes the data on accuracy and difficulty. The Pre-2016 SAT had a 10th section that looked identical in length and time to several of the other sections of the test, and so it was easy to slip in these testing questions.

However, because the new test has only 4 sections it would be impossible to hide the questions. So the College Board just tacked on a 25 extra section, and told students to do it. Now, you can guess how accurate the data was on questions that students were fairly certain didn’t actually count as part of their score. (not very accurate indeed)

The other day, I was going over a test with a student and I saw this…

A Clue!

What this says to me is that the College Board may have removed a section of your test and put it in section 5 and replaced that removed part with “testing” questions that didn’t count as part of your score.

Be Prepared for Section 5 on the SAT

Overall, you should be ready that there is a section number 5 on the SAT. You will have to do it and it may count. So you should treat it as seriously as the rest of the test.

Willa Cather sitting on a chair with a large feathered hat. Cover to a reading package for SAT Reading practice. She is ready for Section number 5 on the SAT.
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Girl sitting in the stacks of a library reading a book looking for clarity on the SAT.

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