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The College Board recently announced that it is revamping its test format to more closely match that of the high school curriculum and making it similar to its competitor, the ACT. According to The New York Times, the SAT, once the most common college placement exam, had 1.7 million test takers in 2012, as opposed to the ACT’s 1.8 million.
David Coleman, the College Board president, was instrumental in the creation of the Common Core standards that are taking over NYC public schools. He came to the SAT board in 2012, immediately expressed dissatisfaction with the current exam, and proposed changes. He states that basing the test off of the high school curriculum will give low-income students more of an advantage because they are typically unable to afford extensive test prep courses.
Senior Mateusz Bruszewski agrees, stating, “It will be easier and less stressful, but will also cause more competition between students. Students will not have to worry about memorizing vocabulary or writing an essay.”
The revamped SAT will last three hours as opposed to the original four and will return to the 1600-point scale. A proponent of the old test, senior Rafal Chudzik states, “Long tests build endurance and shortening the exams are not beneficial for students when colleges put emphasis on testing.”
The optional essay section of the test will be an extra fifty minutes. Unlike the previous essay which asked for an opinion on an ambiguous quote or idea, this essay will be document-based, requiring evidence and the author’s stylistic elements to prove a point.
With the college admissions competition, guidance counselor Sara Skoda said, “I would still advise all of my students to take the essay because it will not hurt and give students an advantage.”
The math section will focus on a specific set of topics from the high school math curriculum, such as real world problem solving, data analysis, and algebra. Calculators will not be allowed for some sections. This does not discourage freshman Anson Wu, who stated, “It should be easy. I mean, I think it’s just basic math.” Coleman’s reason for the change is that, “We are not interested in students just picking an answer but justifying their answers.”
Some say the test will get harder, while others believe that it will get easier. Guidance counselor Adrienne Nasser believes that “the new test will be better for students because it will be similar to the ACT, in which students tend to score higher.”
The SAT does not plan to add a science section to its exam, but the similarities between the two tests are evident.
There will no longer be a guessing penalty, a science passage will be incorporated into every reading section, and lastly, students will get to choose whether they want to write an essay.
Aside from that, Coleman proposed to radically alter the vocabulary portion of the reading sections.
These will include more common words that are used in college courses, and infamous SAT words such as “munificence,” “obstreperous,” and “pulchritude” will become a rarity.