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College and career readiness services - Steps to the Future

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Redesigned SAT Coming

Do you know the College Board is redesigning the SAT? Spring 2016 marks the unveiling of a SAT that looks radically different from the current version. Beginning with the class of 2017 (current sophomores), students will take a SAT that reverts back to the 1600 point scale versus the current 2400 that became standard in the 2005 revision of the SAT.

Here is a snapshot of some of the other changes coming to the SAT:

Format and length: The current test has three score categories, Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing, including a mandatory essay, with 3 hours, 45 minutes testing time. The redesigned SAT will have three sections, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, and the Essay. Including the essay, optional in this revision, total testing time is 3 hours, 50 minutes.

Scoring: Aside from the total score change, the most significant scoring change is the elimination of the ¼ point deduction for wrong answers.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: Sentence completions are gone and students will read longer passages (500-750 words) to test their use of grammar, punctuation, structure, and rhetoric. A new twist is founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and texts deemed part of the Great Global Conversation requires students to engage in critical analysis and deeper understanding of this material. Additionally, interpreting graphs and charts across the curriculum, including Science, is a departure from the current SAT.

Math: There is a stronger emphasis on Algebra. All of the questions require students to demonstrate their ability to problem solve using multiple steps and apply their mathematical skills to real world situations. For example, one sample question asks students to use a scatterplot to determine the average yearly increase of manatees in Florida. Of note, one section of the math is calculator-free.

Essay: Mandatory in the current version, the essay becomes a 50-minute option deemphasizing creativity and focusing on critical analysis. Facts, not students’ opinions, dominate. Underscoring this change, the prompt concludes with “Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade his audience.”

Test Prep: The College Board has a partnership with Khan Academy to provide free, comprehensive test prep. Stay tuned for more news on that partnership.

Why these changes now? College Board, once the leading provider of college admission tests in terms of numbers, recently lost ground to the ACT and the trend continues. In 2012, ACT test-takers (1,666,017) outnumbered SAT test takers (1,664,479) for the first time. More students are taking admission tests in general and the ACT has more than 15 state-funded partnerships to administer the test to juniors, including North Carolina.

Will the Redesigned SAT regain its place in the testing world? Time will tell. To get updates, go to Delivering Opportunity and register for updates from the College Board.

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