The SAT test is about to change. Again. The College Board announced in March 2014 that the current test format would be changed with the new test arriving in Spring 2016. The College Board is also eyeing leveling the playing field, by making test preparation materials available to the Khan Academy. In turn, Khan would provide those materials to test takers anywhere in the world for free.
New Points Arrangement
It was just over a decade ago that the College Board changed the SAT to its present format. The board added an essay section and changed scoring from a 1600-point model to 2400 points. The test has been criticized by some for not meeting the needs of disadvantaged students, something the College Board intends to correct with the new test. The free materials are an important part of that initiative with the first batch to be released in Spring 2015, giving test takers ample time to prepare.
The College Board has affirmed its intention to keep the new SAT robust, in a bid to make the exam valid and predictive. The board also intends to make the new exam “more focused and useful” as well as “more clear and open” than previously. The new exam will be designed to increase readiness and success, based largely on the work that students already do while in high school.
Three SAT Sections
The new SAT will be composed of three sections: mathematics, evidence-based reading, and the essay. The 2400-point scale will revert to the 1600-point scale that was used for decades until the current version was rolled out.
The board says that the new test will be about three hours long with another 50 minutes allowed for completion of the essay. Expect that the timing will be adjusted as the board completes its research.
Students may be happy to learn that both print and computer versions of the test will be made available in 2016.
Dropping SAT Words
Among the other changes anticipated are word usage that may be uncommon to many students. The board has been criticized with using what are called “SAT words” or vocabulary that many students are not familiar with and wouldn’t use in every day speech. Instead, the SAT will incorporate words that students can be expected to use while in college and later in life.
Another change will have test takers participating in evidence-based reading and writing. Under this arrangement, student will be required to support their answers with evidence, particularly by citing a certain part of a passage to support their answer.
The mathematics section will focus on three important areas: problem solving and data analysis, algebra, and advanced math. All three were chosen to show readiness for both their college studies and career training.
Other changes include sourcing documents from a wider range of academic disciplines, analyzing data and text in real world context, an examination of founding documents and global text, and removal of the penalty for wrong answers. Instead of being penalized for answering incorrectly, students will be awarded points for each correct answer.
Academicians have applauded the College Board’s move, a response no doubt taken to the growing acceptance of the alternate ACT exam. Also, more colleges are no longer requiring SAT grades, choosing to focus on high school grades and other indicators that point to college readiness.