The College Board, creators of the SAT, just announced major changes to the SAT! These changes won’t go into effect until Spring 2016, so will only affect the class of 2017 and younger students.
Here are the major changes:
- The essay will become optional, and will require students to analyze a passage. (Keep in mind that colleges may still require the essay for admissions.
- The overall scoring will revert back to the 1600 scale, with just the Reading and Math sections. The optional essay will be a separate score.
- Wrong answers will no longer be subject to a 1/4 point penalty, allowing random guessing.
- The vocabulary questions and words will change, but it’s unclear in exactly what way. The College Board wants to emphasize words like “synthesis” and “empirical” over more esoteric/obscure words.
- Changes to the math section are also vague, but appear to reduce the body of math on which students might be tested. Math questions will also be “less abstract” and focused on how to use math in science, social studies, etc. Calculator use will now be allowed on only PART of the math test.
- Computer versions of the test will become available, though the standard paper and pencil version is not being eliminated.
- The College Board also announced a plan to provide four fee waivers for college applications for all low-income students. Most colleges already waive fees for low-income students, but some experts have said that eligible students don’t even apply for the waivers, and are discouraged from applying.
Overall, this looks like the SAT is attempting to look more like the ACT and will be a slightly easier test. College Board is also attempting to make test prep companies and tutoring strategies not as effective.
One final change is the College Board partnering with Khan Academy to provide free test prep videos. In the past, Khan Academy has already provided free SAT videos and lessons based on the Official SAT Study Guide book, but this partnership may take another step forward.
The complete details on the new exam and sample test items are expected to be released on April 16.
NY Times: Major Changes in SAT Announced by College Board