Dear LA Teacher,
I’m a sophomore in high school thinking ahead to when I have to take the SAT exams. I hear the test changed. Can you explain the changes and preparation ideas?
Dear Confused Sophomore,
Students who took the SAT exam Saturday morning March 5, 2016 noticed huge changes on what’s tested and how it’s scored.
In a CNN article, “Major changes coming to 2016 SAT test: Here’s what, how and why” College Board President and CEO David Coleman referred to standardized tests as being “far too disconnected from the work of our high schools.”
The SAT exams tend to be too stressful and filled with trick questions. Students, who study for the tests, even if they do well, aren’t necessarily ready for college.
To determine who those college-ready students are,s the SAT exam has been changed to include three sections—evidence based reading, writing, and math with an optional essay.
This new SAT exam was not designed to see if students can choose a correct answer, but can they justify that response. It will also change from its current score scale of 2400 to 1600 with a separate score for the essay. Finally, test takers will no longer be penalized for picking a wrong answer.
Since the SAT’s last change in 2005, many college admissions officers and high school counselors have felt the exams were disconnected from the real work done in a high school classroom and the cost to prepare for the tests are too extravagant forcing students from lower income families to lose out. So the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials. Now, income-eligible students can receive free wavers to apply to four-year colleges.
Here’s a closer look at the exam sections.
The reading and writing sections will include questions requiring test takers to cite evidence for their answer choices. Reading passages from science, history, social studies, and literature will be included. Instead of completing a sentence with ambiguous words memorized from flash cards, students are now expected to determine a word’s meaning from context clues. This is how it’s taught in the classroom.
No longer can test-takers use calculators on all sections of the math test. This new exam will focus on data analysis and real world problem solving skills.
The essay section will be optional and those who choose to take it will have their essays scored separately from the rest of the SAT exam. Also, the essay prompt will ask students to read a passage and write an essay analyzing how the author made an argument, used evidence, and composed his ideas.
The new SAT exam will take three hours with an additional 50 minutes for the essay. Print and computer will administer it.
The best way to prepare for the next SAT exam is to pay attention in English and Math classes as well as supplementing that learning by enrolling in the free Khan Academy program.
Good luck with your studies,
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