SAT test changes to fit current curriculum

By Shian Omar | Features Editor

Current freshmen will be the first to take the new SAT beginning in the spring of 2016. Changes are being made to have a test that is more aligned with what students learn in school.

The test not only be given on paper, but also on the computer at select locations. The scoring of the test will be based on three main sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math, and an optional essay.

“The scoring will revert back to a score of 1600 rather than the current 2400,” RISD SAT prep teacher Shari Barat said. “This change actually reflects the scoring used before the last time the SAT changed, which was in 2005.”

The vast number of rigorous vocabulary words memorized for the current test will be unknown to students taking the test in 2016. Instead, they will have to figure out the meaning of the words based on their context.

“Ironically, I stopped using my vocabulary lists based on SAT usage this school year,” Ms. Barat said. “Instead, I have spent much more time offering different types of reading passages, focusing on annotative skills and requiring students to substantiate their answers to reading questions with evidence from the text.”

In addition to changes in the test itself, preparation for it will also change. The College Board will be partnering with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation. According to David Coleman, President and CEO of College Board, “The SAT should reward merit and hard work, and success on the exam should be available to all.”

Min Brockway, the RISD SAT teacher for the math section, believes that the free test preparation is going to be very helpful. “Looking at the explanation by checking the back of the SAT book won’t be enough because of the students’ maturity level,” Mrs. Brockway said. “They need a step-by-step explanation that will show them the process, removing the need of an SAT class.”

The test itself will be about three hours long with an additional 50 minutes for the optional essay. “From what I understand, it is overall becoming more comparable to the ACT. Now we are measuring more apples to apples rather than apples to oranges,” Pearce SAT prep class teacher Miranda Gilliam said. “I am kind of iffy about the changes. The SAT is made for certain students, and some students excel at it, whereas others do better on the ACT.”

Making the test more like the ACT is the removal of the guess penalty and a complete shift in the nature of this unique test. “Changes are being made because the test has grown apart from the curriculums taught in high schools across the country,” Ms. Barat said.

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