Redesigned SAT Receives Mixed Responses at Tuscarora

Photo+credit%3A+Sean+Cassar

Photo credit: Sean Cassar

By Meilan Solly

Photo credit: Sean Cassar
Photo credit: Sean Cassar

Every high school student dreads one particular Saturday morning. It’s 8:00 a.m., and you are seated in an uncomfortable desk rather than asleep in bed. It’s SAT day, and your future is about to be determined by a standardized test.

The SAT has long stood as a barrier (or gateway, depending on how well you perform on it) to college acceptances. Although the SAT has undergone several changes since its introduction in 1926, today it includes three sections–critical reading, math, and writing–and is scored on a 2400-point scale. Come spring of 2016, however, the SAT will look very different.

The redesigned SAT will be scored on a 1600-point scale. It will feature two sections: critical reading/writing and math, as well as an optional essay. The critical reading/writing section will include vocabulary which the College Board describes as “relevant words in context,” meaning students will be tested on words used commonly in college and beyond rather than obscure words. Additionally, students will not be penalized for wrong answers.

In a survey of 72 students, 54.2% thought the changes to the SAT were beneficial, 41.7% thought they were not, and 4.1% had mixed opinions.

Connor Murphy, a senior, believes the changes are helpful because many colleges do not look at the writing section of the SAT. “I think it’s good … they’re making the critical reading section more usable, because no one’s going to use some of these crazy SAT words with seventeen syllables,” he added.

There are several explanations as to why College Board, particularly its president Mr. David Coleman, chose to make these changes to the SAT. As quoted by CNN, Coleman explained, “Admissions officers and counselors have said they find the data from admissions exams useful, but are concerned that these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms and surrounded by costly test preparation.”

Another common criticism of the SAT is that it caters to the economically privileged, to whom SAT prep courses, books, etc. are more readily available. In order to rectify this issue, College Board plans to partner with Khan Academy to offer free online instructional videos.

Although the changes will only affect the current freshman class, many students have strong opinions about them. 26.4% of students surveyed would rather take the current SAT, while 72.2% would rather take the new SAT and 1.4% remain conflicted.

Jonah Kight, a junior, would prefer to take the current version because it is a “better reflection of what I know.” Britany Dowd, a sophomore, agreed, saying, “I feel like you could prepare for [the current version] more … the new version is more reasoning, and I think that would be harder to study for.”

Many students surveyed, however, stood on the opposite end of the spectrum. A common explanation for this choice was because students believe the new SAT will be easier.

For more information on the changes to the SAT, visit sat.collegeboard.org. Sample SAT questions and further specifications about the test’s format will be available online on April 16.