In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a student looks...

In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School. Credit: AP

I run a business that tutors students for the SAT and ACT college-entrance exams. To get an idea of what students face, I took the SAT back in 2011. The experience reminded me just how much time pressure and a student’s psychological state can affect their results.

This year, the College Board overhauled the SAT and gave it for the first time in March. I took the new version in May at Bay Shore High School, my alma mater, so I could get a first-hand experience of the differences. The next test is June 4.

Over the years, Long Island students have generally preferred the SAT. Nationally, the ACT overtook the SAT as the more popular college admissions test in 2012, so it seems the College Board decided it had to make changes.

This new SAT bears a striking resemblance to the ACT in important ways. There is no penalty for wrong answers, math questions use more real-world context, the writing and language section mirrors the ACT English section, multiple-choice questions offer four answers rather than five, and the essay portion is optional.

I found the reading section of the new SAT to be easier than the old SAT. Passages were more straightforward. Also, the test provides 1 minute, 15 seconds, per question — an increase of 15 seconds. That helped me go back and check answers.

In the new SAT, several reading questions ask students to answer based both on a passage and a corresponding graph. It feels like a Time magazine article that uses text and a graph, so the reader has to synthesize both. With the prevalence in infographics and the increasing amounts of data that workers must analyze, these questions are a dramatic improvement over the old SAT.

The writing and language section was very similar to the ACT’s English section. Predictable questions tested subject-verb agreement, elimination of redundant phrases, and homophones such as their vs. there. Students shouldn’t spend too much time checking answers. I typically like to read a question a second or third time, but on this new section, there wasn’t enough time.

The new SAT’s math portion was dominated by algebra and reading. The questions build in real-world context, such as dealing with costs of renting a car, or dealing checking and savings accounts. The first section did not allow use of a calculator, while the second did. Both included easy and hard questions, and forcing students to answer without a calculator was a smart improvement. For years, educators have complained that students relied too heavily on their calculators.

The overall length is similar. The old SAT was 3 hours, 35 minutes (including the required essay). The new SAT is 3 hours without the optional essay and 3 hours, 50 minutes, with the essay.

I signed up for the optional essay. The task requires students to read a written work and then explain how the author builds an argument. It’s a worthwhile challenge. Students need strong persuasive writing skills to succeed in college and in the workplace. Some colleges say the essay is important for admission, and others do not care about it.

I repeatedly asked myself, Is this a test students can train for and improve on? The answer is yes. The College Board announced which question types and content would appear on the revised SAT, such as finding the relationship between an informational graphic and a written passage, identifying how authors use evidence to support their claims, or finding and fixing weaknesses in a piece of writing.

David Coleman, one of the architects of the Common Core learning standards, is now president of the College Board, and one of the stated goals of this new exam is to more closely mimic what students learn in school. Ultimately, I believe that with its emphasis on verbal questions and graphics, this test does a better job than the old SAT in demonstrating a mastery of reading, math and writing skills needed in college.

When I took the SAT in 2011, I scored a perfect 800 on the reading, 760 on the math, and 760 on the writing and language portion. That was my last good reminder of the pressure of these tests. When my new scores are released online on June 15, my heart will be racing — and I’m not even applying to college.

Reader Tom Ehlers of West Islip runs Method Test Prep, a Web-based program that prepares students for college-entrance exams.