Written by Sanskriti Bimal Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00
Everyone, from educators, admission officers and parents to the edgy, nervous, tense, somewhat exasperated and much affected students, have an opinion on it.
“I am so glad that the essay portion is being taken away,” said Mineola High School freshman Emily Wood. “I was going insane trying to figure out how to write a excellent essay in just 25 minutes. It’s a big relief.”
Only time will tell whether the new SAT changes to be introduced in two years are good or bad and whether they will serve the test's purpose—to better assess students preparedness for college. The 88-year-old test will return to its original grading scale of 1600. The exam moved to a 2400 scale in 2005.
A chat with Whittney Smith, assistant principal of guidance at Mineola High School, reveals more.
“It will have three sections: Evidence-based reading and writing, math, and the essay,” said Smith. “The essay is optional and will provide a separate score. It will drop some of the obscure vocabulary it has traditionally used. The math section also will narrow its
focus, and reading comprehension questions will weave in information from other subjects, such as science, history and social studies.”
Smith said the new SAT would not deduct points for incorrect answers (currently a wrong choice loses one quarter point). The math exam will focus on three essential areas: problem solving and data analysis; linear equations and systems; complex equations and manipulation. Calculators will be permitted on certain portions of the math section only.
In the current SAT, Smith said, scoring points are deducted for incorrect answers and math section encompasses content from a wider range of high school-level syllabi. Also, calculators are permitted for the math section.
“The new redesigned SAT would require evidence based reading and writing, vocabulary focused on words that are widely used in college and career,” Smith said. Students would be required to analyze both text and data in real world contexts and the exam would include an excerpt from one of the founding documents or a text from the ongoing great global conversation, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution will be included.
This year’s freshman will be the first class to take the new SAT in spring of 2016, according to Smith. The high school graduating classes of 2014 and 2015 will still take the current SAT.
“Students should continue to work hard in school, read, write, and improve vocabulary,” said Smith. “In the summer before your junior year, there are many test preparation options that parents and students can explore. We offer classes at school as well as an online program to assist students in preparation.”
There is much debate and commentary on the SAT and what it measures is still the question, however there is no denying the fact that the SAT is among the most rigorously researched exams in the world and everyone who takes it is being measured against the same yardstick.