Recently, the College Board announced that a new and redesigned version of the SAT exam would go into effect in 2016. In an attempt to level, what some had argued, an unfair playing field, the new exam will do away with certain components. This includes:
- Essay: The new exam will include an essay section that is purely optional. While most students are used to the required essay that is timed at 25 minutes, the new essay will clock in at 50 minutes. The designers are hoping that this change will give students ample time to analyze the structure and content of a written work. The optional essay will also mean that the grading scale will change from 0-2400 to 0-1600.
- Obscure Vocabulary: The old test was replete with words like ‘tergiversate’ and ‘phlegmatic,’ leading many long-suffering high school students to memorize words that they would never use in any practical context. The revamped exam promises to test students on vocabulary that would be widely used in college and beyond.
- Selective Use of a Calculator: While the calculator was always a welcome presence during the math section, the new exam will only allow the use of a calculator for certain subsections. In doing so, the test will measure the student’s mathematical fluency without the added support that calculators often provide.
- Fill in the Blank: Also known as “sentence completion,” will be dropped in lieu of more textual analysis on subjects such as science, history and social studies. The texts will often be authored by important historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. This section will focus more on the student’s ability to analyze different styles of writing and to pinpoint the author’s intent.
Like it or not, change is on its way, and it is important for parents of high school freshmen or longer to be prepared for the new testing format. Although it remains to be seen as to whether the new exam will spur greater accessibility to higher education, the benchmark status of the SAT and ACT is here to stay.