College Board revises SAT, IU reacts

IU freshman Aaron Welcher remembers his score on the SAT even though he took the test a year ago. It was 1,650. He hit a little bit above the national average mark out of 2,400.

“For all the studying I did, I feel like I should’ve gotten higher,” Welcher said.

Two years from now,  high school students from around the country will take a revised SAT standardized test.  

Last Wednesday, College Board President Dan Coleman announced major changes to the test that many high school juniors and seniors sweat about. The new SAT, which will be placed on the desks of high school students come 2016, will be more analysis and application based in order to improve how the test measures success in schools.

These changes include scaling the perfect score back to 1600, eliminating penalties for wrong answers, substituting obscure words like “crepusular” and “acquiesce” to words students would more likely use in college and their career, making the required essay optional and creating more applicable math problems.

According to the College Board, there will be three sections to the test: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math and the optional essay.  

The new changes could in turn affect the way IU considers applicants to the University.
Sacha Thieme, the IU executive director of admissions, said even though IU requires SAT or ACT scores, it’s just one factor of the admissions process. Other factors, like a student’s high school transcript, application and their GPA trends over time each play a part in determining which students are accepted to IU. In addition to these factors, Thieme said this admissions year, potential students could write a personal statement in their application.

The personal statement will give potential students the opportunity to express excellent academic work, acknowledge something questionable that shows up in another part of the application or show adversity in a certain situation, Thieme said.

According to the IU Office of Admissions, students admitted in fall 2013 scored an average of 1203 on the Critical Reading and Math portion combined of the SAT. The average GPA is 3.68. Thieme said usually students’ SAT scores coincide with their GPA.

These revisions come after pressing concerns of the validity of the College Board’s SAT and if it could accurately measure aptitude in students that have yet to start college.

Last month, National Public Radio obtained a study from the National Association of College Admission Counseling that showed students who didn’t submit SAT scores graduated at a higher number than submitters at 33 public and private colleges and universities around the country that make it optional to submit. It showed that high school grades have more of an impact than SAT scores.

Thieme said she believes that SAT scores still play an important factor in considering students, but it’s not the most important factor..

“The way I look at the test, it’s part of the overall student profile,” Thieme said.

High school test takers will also have access to free SAT test preparatory classes from Khan Academy. This could give students from lower income backgrounds more access to study materials for the test.

She said the University is working with high school freshmen now, adding interested students to email lists and updating them about college fairs in the fall.

“The IU community will be learning about the test together as the plan for the new SAT unfolds,” Thieme said. “As we learn more about the predictability and validity of the test, we need to make sure we educate the campus community about what that score means and how we compare different trends with the historical trends of the past test scores.”

Welcher, who is majoring in law and public policy, said these changes are a step in the right direction toward admitting a wider variety of students.

“I feel like standardized testing now puts students into boxes that don’t show who they actually are,” Welcher said. “They’re looking at the numbers that they score, they don’t look at the individual and what they have achieved.”

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