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What the new SAT exam means for the class of 2017


Friday, September 19, 2014

The SAT provides a way for schools to assess students' level of college readiness using one common test. The SAT as we know it was created in response to IQ tests administered to military recruits during WWI. Since then, the test has evolved to the point where it is now considered a rite of passage for high school students who are preparing for college, explained Study Points, a resource for student tutoring. Now, with over 2 million students taking the test each year, the SAT is undergoing a considerable overhaul to provide colleges with better insight into students' abilities.

A series of changes
Some of the more recent changes were made in 2005, when the scoring changed from a potential of 1600 to one of 2400. In addition, the test length was extended, analogies were removed and in their place came short reading passages and a writing section. In 2009 the process of submitting scores underwent a change. Students who took several passes at the SATs were now able to choose which scores they included with their college applications.

In 2016, high school students can expect even more changes—some of which include reverting back to certain characteristics present in older versions of the test, explained Kaplan Test Prep. For starters, the new test will shift back to the previous scoring system that was based on a perfect score of 1600. Additionally, it will give students the option of writing the essay or skipping it with no penalty. There will be a more rigorous math section, complete with concepts that require a higher level of thinking, and a selection of historical reading passages that will require student response. Gone are fill-in-the-blank questions, and the new test is also removing penalties associated with a wrong answer. And, for the first time, students can opt for a computer-based test, eliminating the classic need for a No. 2 pencil.

Mixed feelings
As with most types of academic change, students have both positive and negative opinions about how it will affect them. According to the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey, the computer-based approach worried 36 percent of participating students who felt that technical issues and the inability to physically jot down notes could prevent them from performing their best. Also, a more difficult math section left students unsatisfied. More than half of the students surveyed disagreed with the requirement that would prohibit the use of a calculator on a portion of the math problems.

However, not all of the changes were viewed negatively by students. According to the survey, 67 percent of them appreciate the removal of the penalties that come with an incorrect answer. As it stands now, each wrong answer on the SAT results in a quarter of a point being subtracted from the final score. Additionally, that same percentage of students are in favor of the incorporation of history into their test. The removal of the essay is another element that was appreciated by a large portion of students - 51 percent, to be exact.

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