Starting this month, high school students who are signed up to take the SAT will be administered a revamped version of the college readiness assessment.
Changes to the exam, made by the nonprofit organization College Board, are geared more toward real-world problems students are likely
“I think it’s still going to be challenging,” said Debbie McNeely, Conroe ISD secondary language arts coordinator. “But I think it’s going to be more student-friendly.”
Students can earn up to 800 points in the math section and 800 points in the evidence-based reading and writing section.
“We redesigned the SAT to focus very clearly and specifically on those skills that are necessary for college readiness and success,” said Cyndie Schmeiser, College Board chief of assessment. “These are the skills that students are learning every day in the classroom, but we are focusing very clearly on really what matters.”
An optional essay section will add 50 minutes to the exam time and be scored separately. According to McNeely, the essay prompts will be the same for every city. However, reading materials will vary.
“That’s kind of a nice thing, so students know what to expect,” she said. “But they have to be able to be a close reader and be able to determine what the author has done as a writer in the piece.”
McNeely said although this portion of the SAT is not required, most colleges would still want to see an essay score.
“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.
The new version of the SAT features eight changes, McNeely said, including the new scoring system.
“[Students are] going to have this beautiful growth measure to see how they’re progressing,” she said. “Is their performance on track to show college readiness? If not, what’s really cool about the new scoring system is they have the two big scores, then they start breaking it down. There’s a total of 12 different scores that you can look at.”
Students will be able to see specifically how they scored in the various math, science and social studies topics covered. Additionally, students will have four answer choices instead of five, and there will be no penalty for wrong answers. They will simply receive credit for correct answers only.
College Board has also redesigned how students prepare for the SAT. In addition to high school course curriculum, students were expected to buy additional SAT study materials or pay for preparatory classes. Now, College Board has partnered with nonprofit education organization Khan Academy to offer free study materials.
“Over three-quarters of a million kids have already gone into satpractice.org and have practiced with over 15 million problems,” Schmeiser said. “We are getting feedback from kids stating that the new test is more of a reflection of what they have learned in school. Frankly, they are finding the questions to be very clear and straightforward.”