College Board SAT Changes

After four years competing against peers and trying to maximize their GPA for admission into their college of choice, many students find themselves unable to attend a select university (or qualify for a scholarship) due to low SAT scores. Adding to high anxiety levels are the looming changes recently proposed by the College Board to one of the main college entrance exams, the SAT.

The norm for most high school students is to start practicing early and often for the SAT. For many, learning how to take the test is as important as knowing the material tested. College Board (who creates and administers the PSAT and SAT) announced this past March that the format of the SAT would once again change. The new SAT will be implemented in the Spring of 2016, affecting this year’s sophomore class. Although College Board announced the changes this past spring, many students, parents, and even school administrators remain unaware of the test’s new format. “Since confidence directly relates to performance on the SAT, it’s important that students who will take the new test know how the revised material will be presented and scored,” said Taylor Oatman, Instructor and Co-Owner of More Than A Teacher.

According to College Board the new SAT will be a three-hour exam scored on a 1600-point system with an optional essay scored separately. The test will have two main sections, each worth 800 points. The first section, Evidence Based Reading and Writing, will include vocabulary words that are more relevant to student’s future academic and professional use. Instead of forcing students to memorize a plethora of words that people rarely come across, the new test’s goal is to encourage students to read a broad range of topics to extensively understand and retain the meaning of new vocabulary. This revised reading and writing section will now be evidence based, and will draw from science articles, historical documents, and literature that are considered important for Americans to understand. Such documents could include The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. The second section, Math, will also feature extensive revisions, with the range of topics narrowing as the SAT seeks to focus on more in-depth understanding of core concepts. Finally, the new test will not deduct points for incorrect answers, mirroring the approach currently used by the ACT.

The new SAT is relatively far away, and although students’ instincts tell them to start studying now, some professionals suggest otherwise. "With so much uncertainty about the new test and its content, we [More Than A Teacher] suggest students avoid starting a long-term prep program that won't accurately reflect the new test when it is released," said Ryan Lord, Instructor and Co-Owner of More Than A Teacher. It may be better to let the professional tutors and test prep companies master College Board’s new SAT first before investing significant time and money.