College Board announces major changes for the SATs

By Daniel S Levine,

The College Board announced today that it will be making major changes to the SATs, the tests many high school students have to take to be accepted at some colleges. College Board President David Coleman said that some of the changes are in response to criticisms that the tests no longer reflect what students learn in high school.

“What this country needs is not more tests, but more opportunities,” Coleman said in a statement today. “The real news today is not just the redesigned SAT, but the College Board's renewed commitment to delivering opportunity.”

Part of today’s announcement did include a new effort by the College Board to reach out to low-income students who want to go to college, but need help applying to schools. Low-income students will now be given four free waivers to apply to colleges after taking the SATs.

However, the news that is getting the most attention is that the SATs themselves will be changed significantly and the new version will launch in spring 2016. The tests can be administered on the computer or with paper. Before then, the college Board and the Khan Academy will be launching a new test preparation software for spring 2015.

The New York Times notes that the tests are getting a significant redesign. Vocabulary words will reflect what students see more often in college classes and the math part will have more focus on equations and proportional thinking. Students will also not be allowed to use calculators on some sections. A guessing penalty for wrong answers will also be taken away.

One of the biggest changes is that the essay will be optional. It had been required since 2005. The new essay will provide the student with an excerpt and then will have to write on how the author makes an argument.

The essay will have its own score. The rest of the test will go back to the 1600 scale.

The changes were also made to keep up with the ACT, which has had more test takers in the past two years. That exam also has an optional essay and no guessing penalty.

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