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The new SAT, which has undergone the biggest changes in a decade, rolls out in March
Some testing experts worry the new exam could put certain students at a disadvantage
My list of reasons that I’m glad I’m not back in high school just got a bit longer: I can add not having to take the new SAT.
If you haven’t heard, the SAT, a test that drives fear into the hearts of many high school students across the country, is getting more than a facelift. It’s undergoing the biggest changes in 10 years, perhaps the most dramatic overhaul ever of one of the main exams used by colleges and universities in determining student admission.
“I would say that these are the biggest changes ever to the SAT,” said Lee Weiss, vice president of college admissions programs at Kaplan Test Prep, one of the largest testing preparation services in the country. “People talked a lot about the SAT changes in 2005. Those were really small compared to what we’re seeing now.”
Gone is the vocabulary section, where you had the feeling you encountered words on the SAT that you would never see again in your lifetime. The essay is now optional. Calculators will no longer be allowed during some portions of the math section, and the number of answers to choose from in each question has been cut from five to four.
Students will no longer be penalized for guessing, with their rough score equal to the number of answers they get right, and overall scoring reverts from the 2400 scoring scale back to the old 1600 scoring scale.
But the biggest change, according to testing professionals and educators, is that the new exam, which will be administered for the first time March 5, is more of a “text-based test” than the previous version, with more dense text in both the reading and math sections.
Some worry that could end up hurting students who have not been exposed to a great deal of reading in their lives.
“The most vulnerable students – namely those who live in low-income areas or don’t speak English as a first language – are likely to suffer the most at the hands of the new SAT,” wrote James Murphy, a tutoring manager for the Princeton Review, another of the nation’s testing prep programs, in a piece for The Atlantic.
‘The myths out there aren’t true’
But the College Board, which created the SAT, says the number of words in the reading section is roughly the same, the length of reading passages is actually shorter on the new exam, and the math section includes the same percentage of word problems as in the past.
“The bottom line is in redesigning the SAT, we carefully considered not only the number of questions that