Earlier this month the College Board, which owns the SAT Reasoning Test (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test), announced major changes to the test that will happen as of early 2016. The SAT is commonly used to determine college readiness and is a major factor along will high school grades, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and the personal statement in admission decisions. These are the first changes since 2005 when a writing section with multiple-choice questions was added along with a 25 minute essay totaling 800 points. At that time, the analogy questions were deleted. Back in 1994 the antonym questions were also removed. This brought the total score up to 2400 points. These changes will impact this year’s current 9th graders, who in the spring of 2016 will then be juniors.
The Major Changes Taking Place Include:
- The essay will no longer be mandatory. Students will have 50 minutes to complete the optional essay and 3 hours for the remainder of the test. (Expect highly selective colleges to request the essay)
- Calculators will no longer be allowed for some parts of the math section. This is an attempt to further measure math fluency.
- The critical reading section will combine with writing and there will no longer be sentence completion.
- There will no longer be a point penalty for wrong answers.
- The vocabulary section will contain more commonly used words rather than those that are obscure.
- The math section will place an emphasis on analysis.
- The test will now total 1600 points.
- There will also be the option of taking the test on a computer.
What do these changes mean or what is their purpose? Essentially, the new test will remove many of the tricks that costly test prep companies help students to learn and be more straight forward. Instead, those that score high will be the strong high school students with a firm grasp of the material. The purpose of the changes is to hopefully increase college access to all students, where test scores are less likely to be related to income and money spent on test preparation. Perhaps the increasing popularity of the ACT, which measures achievement rather than thinking skills, has sparked this movement towards change. As of 2012, the ACT had more test-takers than the SAT. The ACT has branched out beyond its central U.S. and southern popularity. It will be interesting to watch the test optional movement and see if it grows beyond the approximate 800 colleges and universities that currently admit a significant number of students without requiring them to submit standardized test scores. For further information or to schedule a consultation, please contact Pam Ohriner, at Helping Hand College Guidance.