Story by Jacob Gilmore
The president and CEO of College Board announced early in March that College Board would be instituting major changes to the SAT in 2016.
This test is used across the country for college admissions, and is typically more popular among coastal universities.
It competes against the ACT, which is preferred by both Midwestern students and universities. Most colleges accept both when making admission decisions.
In the new 2016 test, students will be expected to justify their answers, and the test will be refocused to emphasize skills students will actually use in college.
The new test will take three hours, with an additional 50-minute essay.
The new maximum score will return to 1600, with an 800 maximum for Math, and 800 for the combined reading and writing sections.
These recent changes are an attempt to restore faith in the test and keep the SAT and College Board relevant.
This comes after years of frustration from both students and universities, as many believe that there is little to no correlation between college success and standardized test scores.
According to a study published by NPR, high school grades are often a better predictor of college success than the SAT.
Recently, many schools have dropped the SAT admissions requirement altogether.
There are mixed feelings about the new changes.
First-year international student Fariz Rahmat is concerned about the reduction and combination of the reading and writing sections.
“There are important differences between a person’s reading and writing abilities, and we lose that distinction,” Rahmat said.
Rahmat is also concerned about the essay prompt due to language barriers and cultural biases.
Senior Harsh Mota said he approves of the vocabulary shift, but believes the test needs to be more rigorous.
“We really don’t want people cramming for the vocabulary and memorizing lists of words that they’ll never use. That’s useless, but the essay should be mandatory,” Mota said.
First-year Chris Cerreta is cautiously optimistic about the removal of the guessing penalty.
“Without a penalty, people are much more inclined to guess, but the penalty stops people from making educated guesses and trying. It’s probably better that we don’t have a guessing penalty,” Cerreta said. “It encourages the attempt.”
What we now know as the SAT began in 1926 as the “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” and was primarily used by Ivy League applicants.The first tests gave test-takers 90 minutes to answer 315 questions.
Over the years, changes have been made to improve score distributions, protect test integrity and allow students the right to not send out some scores. In 2005, the Scholastic Aptitude Test became the “SAT Reasoning Test” and added an 800-point writing skills section, bringing scores to a maximum of 2400.
The current test takes three hours and 45 minutes, scores range from 600-2400 (200-800 per section), and covers math, critical reading and writing through a total of 10 sections.
The vocabulary lists used by the SAT are infamous for being archaic, excessively intricate terms and phrases.
The essay is required, and takes up roughly 30 percent of the writing portion.
There is a guessing penalty, where every wrong answer costs a fourth of a point.