What are the real challenges of the new SAT?
The Scholastic Aptitude Test is one of the most widely-taken
admission tests in America. The SAT evidently has become
synonymous to the college application process. Moreover, it is
considered to be one of the most accurate evaluating indicators
of applicants' college success.
The SAT gained amazing popularity among educational
institutions, which are more likely to accept the SAT, rather
than any other college testing programs.
Whereas, for students the SAT is the most important test they
have to take in their life. Thus, when the matter concerns
college admissions and awarding scholarship, no exam is more
crucial and responsible.
That's why, the recent innovation, introduced by the College
Board, which administers the SAT, became the most controversial
and nerve-racking focal point for college-bound students.
Indeed, it wasn't the bolt from the blue, because educators and
learners have been waiting for some changes to come since June
2002, when the College Board announced a series of changes to
the SAT that were implemented only in March 2005.
New SAT - New Challenges
The new SAT Reasoning Test was taken equivocally, to some
extent, because of its complexity.
The new SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes long, and scored on a
600-2400 scale. Besides, adding the questions from the
allegebra-II to math section, and changing verbal analogies and
quantitative comparisons into critical reading. The SAT
introduced the drastic change, which became a real challenge for
the majority of high school students. For the first time it will
require students to compose a timed essay.
The 25-minute essay, asking a "philosophical" questions, aims at
evaluating how well students can communicate on paper and
support their point of view. This section will produce a
separate score on the 200-800 scale, where the essay will count
only for 30 percent of the writing score, with 49
multiple-choice grammar questions. The mutiple questions will
ask students to identify errors, and to improve the sentences
On the one hand, this sweeping change in the approach to
assessment students' writing skills is well-grounded by the
employers' demand in people with good research, organizational
and referencing writing skills. It is not a secret for anyone
that nowadays good writing skills are not a privilege of the
writers, but an essential skill for the many. Hence, writing
extends beyond the walls of the education system into students'
Gaston Carper, the new ambitious head of the College Board,
claimed in response to numerous questions as per the reason of
this vital alteration, "We were hearing from schools across the
country, from employers all across the country: Young people are
getting out of college not able to write, entering college,
where writing is much more in demand."
Thus, on the other hand this novelty put a new heavy burden on
kids, who have to place more emphasize on their writing skills.
Moreover, parents of some high school students cannot afford to
pay for expensive preparation classes. Hence, students, having
some difficulties with writing, are deprived of the opportunity
to cope with the test successfully, therefore, to receive
college education. It can be interpreted as discrimination for
those, who cannot set out their thoughts coherently and
articulately on paper, thus, are pretty good at math, and can
come through critical reading with flying colors.
One more challenge for the students to face is critical reading.
This is the new name for what is used to be called the verbal
portion of the test, but there will be some changes. The
vocabulary is de-emphasized with the end of analogies, and
comprehension questions are introduced on shorter passages, or
pairs of short passages, besides the traditional longer ones.
Some words are to be said about the alterations, introduced to
the math section. There is a handful of high-level algebra II
questions, where the special accent is made on graphs and
interpreting visual data. Apparently, it won't be a piece of the
cake for anyone.
"Overall, the changes have brought praise from some, who say the
new test is more relevant to what students need to know for
college. But there are also concerns they will more negatively
affect students from weaker schools, and that the essay makes
this test more cashable."
Meanwhile, the changes to the SAT "go through a special lens of
evaluation", and really create much confusion. Students will
have to make additional preparation, beyond the regular course
work, seeking for preparation courses, which offer tutoring on
weak subjects, provide an opportunity to take practice tests,
and emphasize the fundamentals of good essay writing.