Each year, more than 2,000,000 students embark on one of the most crucial exams of their lives: the SAT. Usually taken in the junior year of high school, the SAT requires students to sit through almost four hours of questions focused on math, reading, grammar and writing. The results of this endeavor will often determine a student’s academic future. Good SAT scores help, but do not guarantee that a student will be accepted into college, but high scores often improve a student’s chance of obtaining admission at a competitive university.
It is no surprise that the significance of the SAT and its inevitable consequences are a major source of dread and anxiety for many 11th graders. Each year, colleges become more selective, student applications become more numerous, and competition amongst students becomes more intense. *
Downfall of the current SAT
Few educators think the current SAT is an especially reliable means to evaluate prospective college-bound students. Several research groups claim that the SAT merely tests how well a student takes standardized test. Other groups claim that the test fundamentally relies on esoteric knowledge and mysteriously odd strategies, none of which are reliable predictors of college performance. Many parents seem to agree. Each year they pay billions of dollars to “test prep” companies that claim to improve students’ SAT scores with their unique SAT preparation. Parents reasonably assume that what a school imparts and what the SAT requires are vastly different subjects. This is why many educators have been calling for revisions to the SAT which would make it more relevant to what students learned in high school, and what they need for college. **
SAT Redesign for 2016
Now, with new management, the SAT organization seems to agree that the test is flawed. It is seeing its greatest modification in 80 years. This revolution is being steered by experts of the common-core curriculum, another controversial educational movement. The new SAT chief, David Coleman, announced that he would instigate radical changes to the SAT’s current format which would be more in tune with what happens in the classroom. Starting in 2016, the new SAT will use vocabulary which is used widely in colleges. This replaces the arcane and sometimes esoteric word list used on the current exam. The current math section, which seems to be something akin to an IQ test, will be replaced with math questions that colleges actually use. The current test which punishes students for guessing will be replaced by a newer, less stressful grading system. Some cynics charge that everything on the new SAT will be changed to reflect a version of the test that oddly looks very much like the ACT, a competing college admission test that has been gaining ground of the SAT. Whether Mr. Coleman’s words can match his vision is yet to be seen. The SAT organization has published only a few sample questions, and it might take years to evaluate the new test.
To view an infographic with the specific changes coming to the SAT in 2016, click here.
To read about the College & University Placement program at Leysin American School, click here.
Regardless of the validity of the test, either old or new, the one thing that can be said without question is that the test is important and cannot be dismissed. Preparing for the test should only be the last phase of a student’s college admission efforts. Before that, the student should make sure they are adequately studying for the SAT and they shoul keep the following "11 tips to stay on track for the new SAT" in mind: