Redesigned SAT Sets Off Alarms

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By Ting Ren ’17

Alarmed by the redesigned SAT, students will need to understand crucial changes to the new assessment and make study adjustments for the upcoming spring year and beyond. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a college admission test that gives colleges an insight on how well students know math, reading, and writing.

Creators of the SAT, the College Board, have found that exams given have become “far too disconnected” from what high school students are learning according to the article Behind the SAT: The Good and the Bad of the 2016 Redesign by Allie Bidwell, U.S. News.  Therefore, the change in the format of the SAT would bring reasonable benefits to the students.

An example of these benefits is the decrease usage of difficult vocabulary. Rather than asking questions on what these hard vocabulary terms mean, simpler words will be used to ask how these words develop the passage or author’s point of view to determine how students are familiar with the story.             According to Elaine Liu ’17 who has taken the old SAT and practice tests of the new SAT, although there is less vocabulary in reading passages, “it requires you to know the central idea and find evidence for it.” According to Liu, her advice to give students taking the redesigned SAT is to “go to prep!”

The redesigned SAT will have three sections: reading, writing, and math, along with an optional essay portion, whereas an essay is mandatory in the previous SAT. Students will have three hours to take the exam and an additional 50 minutes if they choose to write the essay. Students who have taken the previous SAT are given three hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam.

Unlike the SAT where students lose a quarter of a point off for each wrong answer, the new SAT will not penalize any wrong answers, enabling students to guess without the worries of getting points taken off.  At the same time, scores will be out of a total of 1600 instead of 2400.

“I think that the new SAT not taking off points for wrong answers would be a good change because it does not make students feel pressured about having to get the correct answer before they skip it,” said Alice Zhang ’17. Along with that, the math portion of the new SAT will not be welcoming the use of calculators for the whole portion. Specific sections will or will not allow calculators to be used. This means that it is important for students to understand and memorize how to solve math problems without the use of a calculator. “I think that limiting the use of a calculator on certain portions is for the better,” said Mr. Edy Rameau. He believes that limiting the use of a calculator will allow colleges to know how familiar students are with math and numbers. “Most of the time, the numbers are friendly without a calculator, it’s up to the student to know when they can use a calculator. You don’t want the arithmetic to get in the way,” he said.

Someday, Mr. Rameau hopes that instead of giving math short responses where students bubble in the numbers of the answer, an open response would bring justice to the students who may know the steps to solving the problem but may get a wrong answer. That way, students can get credit for showing work.

Although news of the new SAT has panicked students, prep resources are posting online practice questions and tips for the test. Practice questions include questions on citing supporting details from texts and how vocabulary are used in passages to develop the central idea along with math questions involving algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The College Board will be partnering up with a test prep program, Khan Academy, to help prepare students for the new assessment.

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