By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke
Recent changes to the format of the Scholastic Aptitude Test will better reflect classroom coursework, but not significantly impact college admissions.
Starting in March 2016, the SAT will undergo eight major changes to assess knowledge that is more practical and useful in a college environment.
Students will be tested on defining relevant words with the help of context clues.
In the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, students will be required to support their answers with quotes from passages.
In the Writing section, students will be provided with a passage that they will have to analyze to construct an argument. In addition, the essay section will be optional.
The mathematics portion will be centered on three topics: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, the Heart of Algebra and Passport to Advanced Math.
In both the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section and the Math section, students will encounter real-world problems from a wide range of topics.
There will also be increased emphasis on analysis in science and social science, and every new SAT will include one of America’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.
Finally, students will not be penalized for incorrect answers.
According to CollegeBoard, the SAT will now be graded on a 400-1600 point scale since the Writing section is now optional. Students also can take an SAT in print and digital forms for the first time.
According to Debbie Zugates, director of undergraduate admission at Duquesne, the SAT is a “tool” that is only one factor that is of importance for the admissions process. Other factors include grades, depth of curriculum, an essay, related experience and letters of recommendation.
Zugates does not feel the SAT changes will affect future admission or review practices because SAT scores are not the only measurement of a student’s capabilities.
“It’s safe to say that a standardized test, such as the SAT or ACT, alone may not always be the best indicator in predicting college success for certain students,” Zugates said. “However, the SAT [or ACT] is a tool, one that is standard across the country, and one of the best tools available to assess student capabilities.”
Zugates said she thinks the elimination of point deduction for incorrect answers will have the most impact on scores because students will be less hesitant about answering questions if they feel unsure about the answer.
Zugates commends CollegeBoard for adjusting the SAT based on feedback from university and high school professionals to provide an examination that will best assess a student’s readiness for college.
Deborah Ellinger, CEO of The Princeton Review, said that these changes are part of an ongoing “Coke versus Pepsi battle” between the SAT and ACT. According to Ellinger, the SAT changes were a sensible business move because the ACT is currently more popular.
Ellinger said that “no standardized test is perfect”, but that the SAT is bias against women and various ethnic groups. As a result, Elliner said she was very sorry to learn that the writing section of the SAT would become optional since women had better average scores for that section.
Ellinger still commends Collegeboard for attempting to better reflect material students are taught in classrooms.