During their high school careers, many students take either the SAT or the American College Testing (ACT) to give colleges another deciding factor on their admissions. The SAT is currently scored out of 2400 and is composed of an essay and 9 other sections that test math, critical reading and writing skills. According to the College Board website, SAT changes will be implemented in the spring of 2016.
“I feel that the SAT is lowering their standards due to low test scores. There is a reason why we have SAT classes, to prepare ourselves for what [is] to come,” sophomore Toni Shy said.
Under the new format, the SAT’s vocabulary portions will be replaced with vocabulary frequently used in college courses, such as the words “empirical” and “synthesis,” while the reading and writing section will include science, social studies and historical documents. The newly formatted SAT will be more aligned to Common Core teaching standards, according to the Los Angeles Times. In addition, math questions will now focus on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking; furthermore, the use of a calculator will not be permitted in some math sections.
The SAT currently has three major sections: mathematics, critical reading and writing, but by the spring of 2016, will be replaced with evidence-based reading and writing, math and the essay; the essay will be optional and extended to fifty minutes. According to Time magazine, no points will be deducted for incorrect answers, an added incentive for students deciding between the SAT and ACT. With the new changes, the SAT will return to its original 1600-point scale, with the essay being scored separately. At select locations, students will be able to take the SAT online.
“I’m looking forward to the SAT changes. I think it will make it easier for students to score higher because we are not deducted points for wrong answers.” freshman Sara Castro said. “We’re [also] able to focus more on topics that we’re struggling with.”
The president of College Board, David Coleman, also announced that College Board will partner up with Khan Academy, a nonprofit learning website, to give students access to questions from previous SAT exams and step-by-step instructional videos in order to accommodate students who cannot afford SAT preparatory classes. The free test preparation will be offered in the spring of 2015. To further ensure that students will have access to the Khan Academy website, College Board will partner up with schools, public libraries and after school programs.
One of the reasons for the SAT’s changes lies in its dwindling popularity. In recent years, the ACT has gained more popularity as a majority of four-year colleges have shifted to test-optional policies and several states have begun to adopt the ACT as a segment of their standardized testing program, according to CNN. According to the New York Times, College Board decided to redesign the SAT because of rising competition between the ACT and SAT. In 2013, more students took the ACT than the SAT, with 1.8 million students taking the ACT and 1.7 million taking the SAT.
The announcement of the SAT changes have generated mixed responses.
“The change […] was going to happen eventually because of the lost of interest toward the test,” junior Sara Hernandez said. “It’s unfortunate for my graduating class because we won’t have the chance to see if the new format would have helped us more in being admitted into a college.”