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What’s New About the New SAT?

March 2016 is the roll-out date for the new SAT.

College Board CEO speaking about Redesigned SAT

Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel

David Coleman, CEO of The College Board who creates the SAT exam, stated the test was changed because, “admissions officers and counselors have said they find the data from admissions exams useful but are concerned that these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms and surrounded by costly test preparation.”

What this means for students taking the new SAT is that SAT preparation may need to extend beyond the test-prep classes used in the past.  Instead of learning test taking tips, students may now need to focus their test preparation on strengthening knowledge foundations, executive functioning skills, critical reading skills, and mathematical problem solving.

If your child will take the SAT after March 2016, they will have the new SAT test.

Here is a Summary of What is New on the New SAT

  • The test structure – the old test was three 800 point sections making the possible top score 2400.  The new SAT has two 800 sections with a top score of 1600.
  • The essay section is now optional.  Unless your child’s target university requires an SAT essay, your child will no longer take the essay portion of the SAT.
  • Wrong answers are no longer penalized.  The new SAT does not levy a quarter-point deduction for wrong answers like the old SAT did.  This dramatically changes the test taking strategy.
  • The test will be offered in either paper format or electronic format.  If your child opts for the electronic version, they should practice electronically.  The College Board website has electronic practice questions.
  • A calculator will only be allowed on half of the math section.  This is a big change and another reason for your child to practice math facts in order to build fast and accurate computational skills.
  • The math section is not as broad and will place emphasis on problem solving and data analysis.
  • The reading section will require citing evidence from the text and the subject matter will be much broader including passages from science and the social studies.
  • The vocabulary section may prove easier as it will focus on commonly used words.  However, instead of individual sentences, the new SAT will present words in the context of a passage, so if reading is an area of concern for your child the new format may prove more challenging.

For Washington students, the new SAT coincides with the new Smarter Balanced Assessments which were also designed to test a student’s career and college readiness and deemed more difficult than the MSP assessments they replaced.  As the school system adapts to the new high stakes testing instruments, students and parents may find themselves awash in anxiety or even in graduation trouble as knowledge gaps may surface without time to fill them.

While certainly viewed as the academic norm, not all schools require the Smarter Balance Assessment to graduate and not all colleges require the SAT.

Your child has options and if high stakes testing generates anxiety or demoralizes your child, be prepared to step-in and support their self-esteem and potential for learning.  Remember, one-size does not fit all learners.  There are many secondary and post-secondary school choices that will engage and support your child’s unique needs and interests so they can grow into the educational future of their dreams.

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