Starting in March 2016, college bound students everywhere will be signing up to take the new SAT.
What exactly is so different about this new version of the test?
- One of the biggest changes is that there will be two sections scored on a 200-800 point scale- reading and math.
- Writing an essay, which is required on the current exam, will be optional.
- In addition, there will be no penalty for guessing and the amount of choices for each question will be narrowed to four instead of five.
- The test will be adapted to better align with the Common Core standards. This means that instead of testing a wide breadth of knowledge, it will delve deeper into a student’s knowledge of using foundational skills such as interpreting evidence from a text or solving a real-world math word problem. A task on the new SAT might require students to decipher the best meaning of a widely used word given its context in a reading passage, versus choosing the definition of an obscure vocabulary word that a student memorized along with hundreds of others.
- The writing section will require students to present a critical response to an argument versus writing about personal experience. Math topics will include a few newcomers such as trigonometry and statistics and will prohibit the use of a calculator.
While some of these changes may seem daunting, the good news is that most students have been preparing for an assessment like this every day in school with the new Common Core aligned curriculums in place. The higher level thinking skills required are also ones that students use in real life. Reading often, being a critical consumer of information, and working hard in school will all help prepare students to take this version of the test. It is not as important whether a student can memorize a bunch of information, rather it matters how he or she uses the information given by analyzing and interpreting it. And in case you were wondering, yes, the test is still a whopping three hours and fifty minutes long.