On March 5, 2014, The College Board officially announced the multiple changes it will make to its well-known college entrance exam, the SAT. First discussed in 2013 (and the first large-scale revision since 2005), these changes will modernize the SAT and intend to improve its ability to accurately evaluate students’ readiness for higher education.
The adjustments will affect both content and the required skills to score well, though the test’s general format of three sections will remain. (Note, however, that what constitutes each portion will differ.) For a specific treatment of each section’s revisions, see below.
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How will the Reading section change?
Reading comprehension questions will challenge students to utilize evidence within passages to support their answers. Though Reading is expected to remain a multiple-choice test, this change still represents a distinct progression from the current format. Selections will also be drawn from different sources—namely various academic disciplines, with a focus on important developments in U.S. history and science (for example, excerpts from the Declaration of Independence). Stereotypical SAT vocabulary like sagacious will be eliminated in favor of terminology that is more typical of higher education and the working world. Such words as empirical and synthesis will take sagacious’ place. Context will also be key, as the SAT will emphasize vocabulary that is influenced by its use within a larger segment of text.
How will the Math section change?
This portion of the SAT will remain relatively consistent. However, questions will involve a narrower range of content areas, with three overarching topics total: algebra, advanced mathematics, and data analysis and problem-solving. One major change students must take note of is the fact that calculators will no longer be permitted throughout the entire section. Their use will, instead, be limited.
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How will the Writing section change?
The essay component will become optional. In addition, the maximum SAT score will return to 1600, rather than the current 2400, and students who opt to sit for the essay will receive a separate mark for their work. The structure of the essay will undergo significant revision as well. Rather than responding to a prompt with personal beliefs and experiences as proof, test-takers will have to analyze evidence within a provided passage. Scores will be based on both analysis and writing. As is the case with the Reading section, selections will consist of source documents with cultural merit.
The revised SAT will be offered in both electronic and print formats beginning in the spring of 2016. And the especially beneficial news for students? Incorrect multiple-choice answers will no longer result in a deduction of their hard-earned points (i.e. there will no longer be a guessing penalty). These are some great free SAT resources that you can use in your SAT prep. Students planning to take the SAT in 2016 should begin implementing these changes in their test prep plan and start practicing immediately.
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