College Board Redesigns SAT

By Maxwell Nettler

Graphic by Michelle Lam
Graphic by Michelle Lam

The SAT causes a hectic time in the lives of many high school juniors and seniors; students often are stressed and nervous because they feel pressure to succeed. So why did the College Board decide to redesign the layout of the test after recently restructuring it in 2005? The College Board believes that the new SAT is better suited for accurately measuring a student’s preparedness for college and the work force.
Currently, the SAT is scored on a 600 to 2400 point scale and broken down into three sections worth 800 points each: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The first of these sections assesses a student’s ability to accurately comprehend and interpret various types of passages. It also tests a student’s command of vocabulary through fill-in-the-blank style multiple choice questions. The next section, Math, includes both student-produced responses and multiple choice questions that involve the use of problem solving and algebraic manipulation of equations. Finally, the Writing section has two main components: a 25 minute essay and multiple choice sections that test the proper usage of grammar and paragraph construction. However, this version of the test will no longer be in effect beginning in the spring of 2016.
In two years, the SAT will be changing back to its 1600 point scale with two new sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. There also will be an optional essay that students can use to supplement the other sections. Within these components there will be eight key changes. These include “relevant words in context, problems grounded in real-world context, command of evidence, analysis in science and social studies, essay analyzing a source, founding documents and great global conversation, math focused on three key areas, and no penalty for wrong answers.” The College Board asserts that these alterations will refocus the test on skills that are more essential for college and career readiness.
Furthermore, along with the actual changes to the test itself, the College Board will be working in conjunction with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation to anyone in the world. Through this initiative, the College Board hopes to level the playing field and make the test more accessible for students from low-income families.
Freshman Jin Mo K. thinks the changes a great idea and especially likes the optional essay. “I think that making the essays voluntary allows the graders to more properly grade them,” said Jin Mo. “I also think it will allow colleges to see which students are more determined.”
Jin Mo, along with the other members of the current freshmen class, will be the first to experience the new layout. Guidance Department Chairperson Dr. Thomas Ganes said, “Hopefully the modifications will have their intended effects and all those who take the new tests will benefit. Best of luck to students taking these tests, old and new!”