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Students have mixed feelings about the new SAT

Monday, April 21, 2014

The SAT, one of two standardized tests used to evaluate college readiness, is scheduled to undergo a major revision. While the College Board does not plan to launch the redesigned test until 2016, feedback about the changes is already coming in.

Students have measured excitement for the new format
Overall, the majority of students approve of the changes to the SAT, according to a survey from Kaplan Test Prep. However, some of the proposed changes are eliciting concern rather than relief.

Approximately 56 percent of the survey respondents said they are unsure about the shift to a digital format. Though it may be easier to submit and score a computer-based test, it will also require students to sit and stare at a bright screen for more than three hours. Additionally, the potential for technical glitches and the elimination of scratch paper for side work has some students worried.

"Students generally support the changes to the SAT, though in our surveys they've expressed concerns about its move to a computer-based format," said Seppy Basili, the vice president of Kaplan Test Prep, in a press release. "The good news is that because many key changes to the test make it more like the ACT, it lessens the uncertainty that can breed anxiety, and we know that confidence is the key to test success."

Content changes get a seal of approval
There is greater support for some of the other changes made to the content of the test. A whopping 85 percent of students said they approve of the removal of fill-in-the-blank vocabulary sections, while another 74 percent like the elimination of the penalty for wrong answers across the test.

Within the reading comprehension section, students also approve of the new historical passage. Each test will feature excerpts from important historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution, and this addition has support from about 70 percent of students.

However, responses are a bit more mixed for the other revamped sections. Less than half of students think it's a good idea to include calculator-free sections, for example. Respondents were also split with regard to the essay, a section that is currently required but will be optional beginning in 2016. Students who choose to take the writing portion may find themselves struggling to complete it, as the essay will be written after the initial exam and requires an additional 50 minutes of testing. 

While students may be justified in their concerns regarding the test, according to the College Board's literature the revised SAT is meant to be "an excellent assessment that will deeply reflect the work that students need to do to be ready for and successful in college and in career paths." - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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