New and Improved SAT

By Amanda Arnold.

The College Board Administration recently released new information concerning the redesigned PSAT and SAT. New SAT sample questions will be released in April, a new PSAT will be released in the fall of 2015, and the redesigned SAT will be released in the spring of 2016.

With so many new changes, it is difficult to process all of the information that has been released, however; these are some of the most important changes taking place:

  • The SAT will now be scored out of 1600 rather than 240.
  • Wrong answers will no longer count against the student’s score
  • Math focuses on three main concepts
    • Allows calculator use only within specific sections
  • Optional essay
    • Students will have 50 minutes to write and review essays.
  • No more sentence completion
  • Redesigned vocabulary section featuring more common words.

“It makes me upset how the essay will be optional because I believe myself to be an above average writer; it was a place on the SAT I knew I would shine. Sure it may be subjective but making it optional can be a crux for people whose talents lie in their writing,” said senior debate captain, Nick Santos, who scored eleven out of twelve on the essay.

As it stands, the written portion of the SAT only allows students to complete and review their essays in 25 minutes. For some, this may not prove to be a challenge; however, for others, it can make the tests that much more difficult. Grading also tends to be subjective. Two judges each give the essay a score of two to six. It’s based on mechanics, critical thinking, and organization; judges also prefer high level vocabulary.

Junior Chris Roeder says, “I’m dreading the essay… writing is my weak point”. Aron Brophy-Strickroth agrees, “The essay and the English section in general I know will be hard.”

However, many upperclassman have negative attitudes toward the new changes; “The SATs are challenging and really force kids to realize how hard life can be, as time goes on we are getting more and more handed to us. It’s not a good idea to change this because we need to be tested to our full potential,” said Senior Dani Treptow.

Junior Taylor Reed says, “I wish we had this opportunity; I’m actually a little jealous, it seems like a good idea, but it’s not fair how the freshman class will get off easier.” To Roeder, it all comes down to this, “If we [upperclassmen] had to do all of the study and prep so should everybody else.”

Unlike the upperclassman, many freshman and administrators are optimistic about the new test.

SAT prep teacher, Mr. Sharples, likes how the new SAT will “give colleges a more accurate view of the type of student they are accepting.” Sharples also said, “Practice test taking strategies, vocabulary activities and practice essays will still be taught. The change will not affect my curriculum.

Freshman Amelia Bailey approves of the changes occurring to the math section. The College Board is planning to incorporate many different aspects of “real world” problems that will require both the examination and application of data, graphs and charts. “With the wide variety of math levels in each grade, some kids haven’t covered parts of material yet, others may have done it so long ago that it’s not fresh in their minds anymore, although I do like the no calculator section, with all the high tech these days, kids can practically do the test on the calculator.”

“I am really glad that it’s [SAT] changing; I heard that the English portion was really hard. This is a fair change for us [freshman] because we will understand what the test is asking and it will improve scores,” said freshman Casey Milburn.

“I’m actually a little nervous to be the first class to take a test that can decide my future… I don’t know what to expect, and I can’t ask around… hopefully the new changes make it easier for us to get a higher score,” freshman Sarah Ayers said.

With the new changes and mixed emotions brought about from the SAT, some are worrying about the financial aspect. Santos tells how “it was easier to ask friends who had taken the SAT before to help me navigate the odds and ends of it.” Considering the cost of private SAT prep courses and busy schedules of students unable to fit in the class, he said, “I fear that the ability for less affluent students to score well may be hindered.”