New and Improved SAT Premieres March 2016


The first administration of the new SAT test is scheduled for March 6, 2016 in test centers across the United States. Test creators have revised the exam to better reflect what is taught in schools by adding more widely used vocabulary, taking away the penalty for wrong answers, and by eliminating the required persuasive essay.

Currently made up of three sections and worth 2400 total points, the SAT will undergo various alterations. Revisions have reverted the scoring back to a 1600 point scale, last seen in 2005. Reading and writing will be condensed into one of two 800 point sections, with mathematics being the second. Both sections will consist of more life applicable, in-depth concepts.

As well as being changed in an academic aspect, the redesigned exam will differ in the way it is administered. Originally timed at three hours and 45 minutes, the new test will take three hours, or three hours and 50 minutes with the optional essay. Additionally, the test will be available digitally for the first time, potentially allowing students to see their results within minutes.

Among the major changes to the SAT is the modernization of vocabulary. The current test focuses intensely on obscure words which students will rarely use, aside from taking the college admission exam. President of the College Board David Coleman has pushed for the new SAT to concentrate more on vocabulary that will lead to success in both college and professional careers of students.

“We will instead measure students’ understanding of words they will use over and over again—words that open doors in college coursework and career training—words like ‘synthesis’ and ‘analysis,’” said Coleman.

Coleman has also recognized the tendency of the current SAT to yield an advantage to those students who have the money to pay for specialized tutoring. His aim is to give students the incentive to take high-level high school courses instead of focusing on the expensive test-prep classes. Coleman believes the modifications being made to the SAT will help to adjust the views of students when it comes to standardized testing.

“What all these changes add up to is an exam that measures the best work students are already doing in high school,” said Coleman. “There should be no difference between preparing for the SAT and preparing for college.”

In short, the new SAT is meant to place emphasis on intricate understanding rather than mastery of test-taking techniques. Apparently, it will more closely resemble the ACT, which is known for testing academic achievement rather than “intellectual aptitude,” as the current SAT has been considered to focus on.

Although the new SAT no longer requires an essay, Director of Guidance Mrs. Fiore points out how important the optional essay may still be for college applications.

“Colleges tend to use essays for placement rather than acceptance which is why it is important to consider,” said Fiore. “It can’t hurt to have the essay on your record and it doesn’t take that much extra time.”

According to the College Board website, the new test will be “highly relevant to [student] success” and “more focused on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education.” With more practical applications and relevance to everyday life, test makers expect the revised SAT to produce a better measurement of students’ preparedness for life after high school.