Updated March 29 at 2:51 p.m.
In an effort to test students more closely on what they are learning in school, the SAT has undergone some changes.
The College Board, a nonprofit that designs the SAT, has changed some key aspects of the test, doing away with an obscure vocabulary section, making an essay optional and providing sub scores for every section.
“We get much more detail in the score report so we can do many more things in terms of curriculum,” said Alene Lindley, Katy ISD director of gifted and talented and advanced academics.
Lindley said the new changes were reflected in the PSAT, a pre-SAT test that is given to all KISD sophomores and juniors.
Those who take the SAT starting in March will be administered the new test, she said.
Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment at College Board, said the changes to the test came after the College Board discovered that of the 1.7 million students who took the SAT in 2015, only 42 percent were ready to enter college without the need for remedial courses. She called the statistic “staggering.”
“As we stepped back, we thought we needed to rethink assessment and not only help more kids become prepared for college or career, but we need to connect them with opportunities to help them navigate that pathway to college, which is not always a clear one,” Schmeiser said.
She said the College Board stays on top of curriculum changes at the high school level and regularly adjusts the test to follow those trends. The last time the test received a major change was in 2005.
“We redesigned the SAT to focus very clearly and specifically on those skills that are necessary for college readiness and success. These are the skills that students are learning every day in the classroom, but we are focusing very clearly on really what matters,” Schmeiser said. “We are not measuring everything students learn but those that research has told us are most important.”
Lindley said students who took the SAT before were not necessarily at a disadvantage, however with the test matching more closely what students learn in school, there will not be as many “tricks” to teach students in prep courses, which the College Board has now made free online at www.collegeboard.org.
“I think it’s a wonderful thought to make sure every student has access,” Lindley said.
Whereas the old SAT scored from 600 to 2400, with the optional essay, the scoring scale moved down from 400 to 1600 on the SAT.
In addition, students are not penalized for wrong answers on the SAT.
Lindley said parents and students can do several things to make sure test-takers are prepared.
“I just really think they should take advantage of the free online resources,” Lindley said.