Major Changes are Coming to the SATs: Here's What You Can Expect
1600 is perfect again! On the SAT that is. On March 5, the College Board announced its plans for a redesigned SAT which will be introduced in the spring of 2016.
The updated exam will feature three sections: “evidence-based” reading and writing, mathematics, and an essay. The essay portion will be optional, which goes against the previous change made to the SAT in 2005.
Makers of the SAT said the new exam will feature “relevant” vocabulary words students are likely to encounter in college, a more in-depth focus on fewer math topics, and questions asking students to cite specific passages supporting their answers.
Not everyone is in favor of the proposed changes to the SAT. Some are even suggesting the changes are being made only to keep up with the ACT, which is the nation’s most widely used admission exam. The same people are also questioning whether or not we really need both tests.
“The word is ‘redundant,'” said director of college guidance at the Albuquerque Academy Ralph Figueroa. “If it’s going to be more like the ACT, then what do we need to take the SAT for then? Why do we need to invest in new guidebooks and new programs that are going to be on the market? It’s all just revenue generation for the College Board.”
Others are supportive of the proposed changes. Jeff Rickey, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at St. Lawrence University said, “I applaud the College Board for tying the test better to what’s needed in college, the way they will provide readings across the curriculum other than just math and English, and also ask for analysis.”
Students taking the new SAT will be required to support their answers with cited evidence in the reading and writing section. Documents used in that section will come from a variety of disciplines, asking students to analyze text and data from documents based in history, social studies, and science.
Changes to the math section include a focus on problem solving and data analysis, algebra, and complex equations and functions found in calculus. Students will only be allowed the use of calculators during specified parts of the math section.
Though the essay portion will be optional, changes are being made to it as well. It is designed to measure students’ ability to analyze material, and be scored on the strength of the analysis as well as writing ability.
Perhaps the biggest change to the test itself is the alteration to how it’s scored. Returning to the test’s roots, 1600 will once again be a perfect score. More importantly, points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers.
Changes to the test itself aren’t the only differences students taking the SAT in the spring of 2016 and beyond will encounter. They will also have better access to test prep materials.
With the hope of making the test more accessible, David Coleman, president of the College Board, announced two new strategies for helping low- and middle-income students. First, all students taking the SAT who are financially eligible will receive four admission-free waivers. Second, the College Board plans to team up with the Khan Academy to provide previously unavailable free online test preparation.
Only time will tell if the new SAT will “open doors of opportunity” and “transform possibilities for everyone and anyone” as promised.
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