SAT revisions begin in 2015

October 15, 2014 | Posted in: High School

A revamped SAT®, that globally recognized college admissions test created by the not-for-profit College Board, is set to debut in 2016 featuring changes in what’s tested, how it’s scored and how students prepare.

The College Board is making comprehensive changes to the standardized test to reinforce the skills and evidence-based thinking that high school students are learning in today’s classroom. The test will eliminate the wrong-answer penalty, and a partnership between the College Board and Kahn Academy means free test-preparation programs and resources will be available for all students.

The move by College Board is intended to deemphasize often costly coaching and tutoring that gives affluent students an edge and instead focuses on the learning that’s happening under schools’ new Common Core curriculum.

Students should concentrate on doing their best in their classroom rather than on learning test-taking tricks and strategies.

“No longer will it be good enough to focus on tricks and trying to eliminate answer choices,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman at an event in Austin, Texas, last spring. “We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying their answers.”

The partnership with Kahn Academy will benefit students preparing for the “old” SAT beginning in spring 2015, when the College Board will offer free online practice problems and instructional videos showing how to solve them.

According to the College Board website, “The redesigned SAT will test the few things that research shows matter most for college readiness and success.” Those changes include:

  • Vocabulary will include words commonly used in college courses, such as “empirical” and “synthesis,” rather than obscure words students may learn from SAT flash cards, never to use again.
  • Points will no longer be deducted when a student guesses an answer incorrectly.
  • The essay, added in 2005 to the SAT, will be optional. A student who chooses to write an essay will be asked to read a passage and analyze how the author uses evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.
  • Scoring will return to the 1,600 point scale, based on a top score of 800 in reading and 800 in math. The essay will be scored separately.
  • Math questions will focus on three areas that best prepare students for college and career: real-world problem solving and data analysis, algebra, and some more-advanced math concepts. Calculators will be permitted on only part of the math section.
  • The reading and writing sections will use source documents from a wider range of disciplines, including history, literature, science and social studies. Students will also be asked to cite evidence for their answer.
  • Exams will also include a reading passage either from one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Bill of Rights or Declaration of Independence, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

Educators agree that high school grades are still a better predictor than standardized tests of a student’s college success. In addition, more colleges have in recent years adopted a “test optional” stance, which allows students to skip the SAT and submit their grades and transcripts, as well as perhaps a graded paper.

But College Board officials believe the move levels the playing field for all students.


SAT® and College Board® are registered trademarks of The College Board

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