QuoteReplyTopic: Changes to the SAT Posted: Mar 27 2014 at 10:48am
The College Board announced sweeping changes to the SAT exam
today as well as new opportunities for students. While some question
the overall value of the high-stakes exam, there is also mounting
criticism as to whether students who can afford expensive SAT test
preparation courses have an unfair advantage, especially given a strong
correlation between family income level and test results.
The College Board's second announcement directly confronts one of the
greatest inequities around college entrance exams, namely the culture
and practice of high-priced test preparation. Coleman revealed that the College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to provide the world with free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. College
Board and Khan Academy will build this material together for launch in
spring 2015. This means for the first time ever, all students who want
to take the SAT will be able to prepare for the exam with sophisticated,
interactive software that gives students deep practice and helps them
diagnose their gaps at absolutely no cost. In the meantime, students who
will take the current SAT can now go to Khan Academy to work through
hundreds of previously unreleased practice problems from actual SAT
exams, accompanied by more than 200 videos that show how to solve the
"For too long, there's been a well-known imbalance between students who
could afford test-prep courses and those who couldn't," said Sal Khan,
founder and executive director of Khan Academy. "We're thrilled to
collaborate closely with the College Board to level the playing field by
making truly world-class test-prep materials freely available to all
The redesigned exam will:
have three sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math, and the Essay.
return to the 1600 scale. The essay will provide a separate score.
approximately three hours in length, with an additional 50 minutes for
the essay. The precise time of the exam will be affirmed through
be administered both in print and by computer in 2016.
first administration of the redesigned exam will take place in spring
2016. The College Board will release the full specifications of the exam
along with extensive sample items for each section on April 16 of this
Major changes to the exam include:
Relevant words in context:
"SAT words" will no longer be vocabulary students may not have heard
before and are likely not to hear again. Instead, the SAT will focus on
words that students will use consistently in college and beyond.
Evidence-based reading and writing.
Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, including
questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to
support their answer choice.
Essay analyzing a source:
The essay will measure students' ability to analyze evidence and
explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
Responses will be evaluated based on the strength of the analysis as
well as the coherence of the writing. The essay portion of the writing
section will no longer be required. Two major factors led to this
decision. First, while the writing work that students do in the reading
and writing section of the exam is deeply predictive of college
readiness and success, one essay alone historically has not contributed
significantly to the overall predictive power of the exam. Second,
feedback from College Board member admission officers was split; some
found the essay useful, many did not. The College Board will promote
analytical writing throughout their assessments and instructional
resources. The organization will also sponsor an awards program modeled
after the Pulitzer Prize for the best student analytical writing. The Atlantic magazine has agreed to publish the winners.
Math focused on three key areas:
The math section will draw from fewer topics that evidence shows most
contribute to student readiness for college and career training. The
exam will focus on three essential areas: problem solving and data
analysis; the heart of algebra; and passport to advanced math. Students
can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they
will be assessed.
Source documents originate from a wide range of academic disciplines, including science and social studies: The
reading section will enable students to analyze a wide range of
sources, including literature and literary non-fiction, science, history
and social studies.
Analyzing data and texts in real world context:
Students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real world
contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between
the two. Students will show the work they do throughout their classes by
reading science articles and historical and social studies sources.
Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation: Each
exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents of
America or the Great Global Conversation they inspire — texts like the
Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and "Letter from a
Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Scoring does not deduct points for incorrect answers (rights-only scoring): The
College Board will remove the penalty for wrong answers — and go to the
simpler, more transparent model of giving students points for the
questions they answer correctly. Students are encouraged to select the
best answer to every question.
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