College Board to redesign SAT, deans not expecting changes in prep

Jake Saferstein

The College Board announced plans to redesign the SAT by spring of 2016.

The new format will return to a 1,600 point scale, 800 for math and 800 for “Evidence-Based Reading.” The essay will become optional and graded separately, and the guessing penalty will be eliminated.

“I think that people feel that probably a lot of it was done in reaction to many years of complaints, but also last year was the first year there were more ACT takers than SAT takers,” upper school dean Beth Slattery said.

The “Evidence-Based Reading” section will focus on students’ ability to interpret and use evidence, according to the College Board website. The section will include  a science passage and a founding document, such as the Decleration of Independence, or a document about human rights.

“I wish I was a freshman,” Jacob Gold ’15 said. “Right now, the math section is way too easy, the reading comprehension is just terrible and don’t get me started on the writing.  I guess it theoretically doesn’t matter because everyone else had to take the same test, but these changes are great.”

The vocabulary section will also become more focused on context and words with multiple meanings.

“I think the changes are good, but it still seems a little early to tell,” Joe Levin ’17 said. “It seems like they’re making it more practical, so the SAT isn’t just measuring how good you are at taking the SAT but measures your ‘smarts.’ I’m happy that I won’t have to know what concomitant means.”

The math section will focus on linear and complex equations, functions and math reasoning with ratios and proportions to focus on college topics.

“I appreciate some of the things they’re trying to do, and hope that these changes will make it feel like [the SAT] has a bit more predicting value,” Slattery said. “But the truth is the best predictor of success in college is grades and that’s always going to be the best predictor.”

The optional essay will focus on analyzing evidence from a source to mimic what students do in college and focus on close reading.

The College Board will partner with Khan Academy to make test prep more accessible by posting sample problems online.

“Even if the SAT becomes easier, it’s all relative anyways, so I’m not annoyed that my test was harder,” David Weitz ’15 said. “If anything it’s better for me that I took it now with access to tutors, because it seems like [tutoring] is going to be less of an advantage.”

Although the test format will change, deans will continue to advise based on the students’ PSAT or PLAN scores, according to Slattery.

“I don’t think things will shift so dramatically,” Slattery said. “They have to norm it no matter what, so the bell curve will be the same in how people perform.”