Changes to the Infamous SAT

By: Lorenzo Gazzola, Journalist

In the past few months, the College Board has announced that it will be changing the current SAT exam for high school students, starting in the year of 2016. The first cohort of students to primarily take the redesigned SAT will be the entering class of 2017. However, some students will take the current SAT before spring 2016 and then take the redesigned SAT later. The purpose of the redesigning of the SAT is to more closely reflect the skills and knowledge that current research tells us are most critical for college readiness and success.

One of the major changes implemented in the new test will be in the vocabulary section. The redesigned SAT will focus on relevant words whose meanings depend on how they’re used. Students will be asked to interpret the meanings of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear. This revision focuses more on words that students will use throughout their lives than on obscure words that they will forget the minute they put their test pencils down.

Another change to the SAT exam applies to the essay, which will no longer be required. This will give students the chance to decide whether or not they want to take the time to write a tedious as well as somewhat nerve-wracking essay. However, the decision will not be completely in the students’ hands. Colleges will be given the option to require an essay for admission to their school, and so some students will need to write the essay anyway. Also, the essay will not simply be a response to a prompt. In- stead, students will read a passage and explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience. Students may analyze such aspects of the pas- sage as the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and stylistic and persuasive elements. The goal of this change is to more closely mirror many college-level writing assignments.

Other changes to the SAT include the removal of penalties for wrong answers, which encourages students to give the best answer they have for every problem. The new SAT will use a 400-1600 point-scale scoring system, (the optional essay will be graded separately,) and focus on math that students will be more likely to use throughout college as well as in the real world. These changes to the SAT exam are designed to test students on things that they will experience and use throughout their lives even outside of college rather than evaluate students on pointless material that they will forget once they are done with the exam. The new test will better pre- pare students for their futures and what awaits them later on in life, and they will already have put one foot forward into the real world that awaits.