Changes are Coming to SAT Exams

Recently, College Board has been making some major changes to the SAT college exam. These changes will affect how students prepare for their exam, how it’s scored, and even what’s on the test itself.

David Colman, the president and CEO of College Board, told CNN that standardized tests have become too “disconnected from the works of our high schools.” He also acknowledged that these tests cause unnecessary stress for students. Despite the fact that students spend much of their time studying, according to Coleman, they aren’t necessarily more prepared for college.

In 2016, the SAT exams will be redesigned to prevent students from simply filling in a bubble. Instead, they will demand that students justify their answers. To balance this new idea, the original score scale will make a return, changing from 2100 back to 1600.

In addition to the change in scoring, the essay, which was added in 2005, will now be optional for test takers. This portion of the SAT had faced criticism from educators who believed the essays focused too much on what the students wrote, no on whether or not the statements were true.

The math portion will also be facing some changes. Calculators will no longer be permitted for the entire test. It will also focus more on data analysis and real world world problems in addition to algebra and more complex math strategies.

“It’s not that helpful to tell students, ‘to get ready, they should study all of math,’” Coleman explained.

The reading and writing portions also face serious changes. While students will still be required to cite evidence to support their answers for document-based questions, the reading passages will be slightly broader. Coleman plans to increase the amount of science, history and social studies documents.

The infamous “SAT words” will also be changed dramatically. The plan is to remove random flash-card driven vocabulary words and replace them with words that the test takers will likely encounter again. The test could also focus more on the context of the words instead of the vocabulary words themselves.

Coleman is also planning to change the perception of inequality surrounding the expensive test preparation by creating more free studying options. College Board will partner with Khan Academy to offer free test prep through online resources.

“This isn’t just a ‘Hey, since it’s free, it’s better than nothing,” Coleman said. These opportunities are designed to be the best prep out there, not just the best free option.

Coleman told students, “We hope you breathe a sigh of relief that this exam will be focused, useful, open, clear, and aligned with the work you will do throughout high school.”