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The SAT is changing and we are on it

Sep 02, 2014 02:56PM ● Published by Dia

The SAT is undergoing its biggest change in 30 years. The College Board says it is trying to make the test more relevant to high school curriculum. The Redesigned SAT is expected to debut in March of 2016 and will impact students who are in the class of 2017 or younger.

The content on the Redesigned SAT will be very similar to that which is on the ACT. The major difference is in how the concepts are tested and the steps students will have to take to solve problems correctly. Students will have to reason their way through this exam by tackling problems in a linear and sequential fashion; a student’s ability to process information quickly will be key.

Some students may find the Redesigned SAT more friendly:

  • There will not be a penalty for wrong answers, so students won’t have to worry about losing points for guessing incorrectly.
  • There will be only 4 answer choices instead of 5.
  • Students may be more familiar with some of the vocabulary tested, but they will need to know multiple definitions of those words.

Some students may find some of the changes more challenging:

  • Questions will require multiple steps to get to an answer.
  • The reading passages will include complex structure and vocabulary.
  • Foundational math skills will be more important.
  • Reasoning and critical thinking skills will be paramount
  • There will be fewer sections on the Redesigned Test, but they will be longer in time than the current SAT

Deborah Ellinger, CEO of The Princeton Review, offers the following statement regarding the College Board's March 5 announcement of its plans to redesign the SAT®:

"I'm glad that the College Board has acknowledged the importance of prepping for the SAT. We believe all students should have access to test prep resources and coaching, which is why we work with schools and school districts across the country to ensure students receive guidance and coaching not just on these tests, but on the additional challenges of finding the best fit college and securing financial aid.

No standardized test is perfect, and the SAT in particular tends to be biased against women and various ethnic groups. I am very sorry to see the College Board has made optional the only section (essay) where women had better average scores that help offset part of the gender gap in the reading and math sections. We have to deal with this, though, because in spite of the SAT's notable shortcomings, the reality is that most colleges use standardized tests for admissions decisions, and in many cases scholarships and other forms of financial aid are tied to test performance.

This is not the first time, nor do we expect it will be the last, that the College Board has changed the test. We support any effort to align the test more directly with what students are learning in school. A common refrain when these changes are announced is that they are being made because the old test was coachable, and that the new test will be better tied to curriculum and less coachable. We've never seen a test that wasn't coachable.

The Princeton Review's position about the SAT remains unchanged. We are not as concerned about the changes to the test as we are about students doing well on this high stakes exam. We will continue to teach our unique combination of test taking, problem solving, and methodology that helps maximize our students' scores.

Ultimately, to put the whole matter into perspective, this is nothing more than a Coke versus Pepsi battle. In this case Pepsi (the ACT) has taken market leadership from Coke (the SAT), and Coke has responded. When viewed through that lens, these changes make a lot of business sense. From The Princeton Review's point of view, the College Board has never designed a test that we couldn't help students crack."

About The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review is a leading test preparation and college admission services company. Every year it helps millions of students achieve their education and career goals through its test preparation, tutoring, and admissions services, its online resources, and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Random House LLC. The Company also partners directly with school districts and non-governmental organizations to provide students with college readiness services including college selection, test preparation, financial aid advice, and admissions support. For more information, visit www.princetonreview.com and www.facebook.com/ThePrincetonReview. Follow the Company's Twitter feed @ThePrincetonRev.

The SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board.

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