As you may or may not have heard, the College Board recently announced that substantial changes will be made to the SAT, effective spring 2016. These changes are meant to better accommodate what students will need to know in post-high-school life, for both college and their future careers. The new test will shift the focus to analytic thinking and will be more aligned with what is learned in the classroom.
This is a big point of interest for students in junior high and early high school, as the rules they are currently familiar with are now changing. Here are the new rules parents and students will most need to know.
The test is reverting to the old scoring scale. While the current SAT is scored on a 2400-point scale, the College Board has decided to return to the 1600-point scale that was used in 2004 and earlier. The essay score will be separate from the math, reading, and writing sections of the test.
Essay will be optional. Speaking of the essay being scored separately, students will now be given the option to forgo this section altogether.
There will not be point deductions for wrong answers. Formerly, students were encouraged to leave answers blank if they didn't know the answer, since wrong responses resulted in ¼ of a point being subtracted from their scores. On the new test, students are encouraged to use their deductive reasoning skills to choose the most logical answer with no penalty for guessing incorrectly.
Vocabulary will be more 'real world.' It's currently not uncommon to see antiquated vocabulary sprinkled throughout the reading and writing sections of the exam. Archaic words will no longer be prominent in the test, giving way to more useful and modern, though still challenging, vocabulary.
The focus on the math section will be narrower. There will be a smaller range of subjects on the math portion which will emphasize equations, functions, ratios, and other types of math that may be applicable to everyday life.
The use of calculators will only be permitted on specified parts of the test. Relevant mathematic formulas will still be supplied to students at the beginning of the test, but don't ditch your algebra tutor just yet. In keeping with the shifted focus on the math portion, calculators will only be allowed for use during certain parts of the test.
The reading and writing section will look for evidence-supported answers. In order to get high scores on the reading and writing sections, students will need to provide ample supporting facts in order to demonstrate their interpreting and analyzing skills. Each passage that students must read will be accompanied by a question asking them to select a quote from the text that best supports their response to the preceding question.
For the reading section, texts will be chosen more wisely. Rather than choosing passages from old, classic novels and short stories, the excerpts will be taken from multidisciplinary texts such as the Declaration of Independence and other widely-read documents.
What are your thoughts on the new SAT tests? How should students adapt their study habits?