Indiana Daily Student

Local high schools embrace SAT changes

The College Board announced March 5 changes will be made to the SAT. The new SAT will first be administered in spring 2016.

Changes will be made to both the math and English/language arts portions of the exam.

Vocabulary words will be changed from obscure words to ones that students will use more often in their college and professional careers, according to a College Board press release.

The essay portion of the exam will no longer be required. According to the release, while the writing work students complete in the reading and writing portion of the test is predictive of college readiness and success, one essay alone has not contributed greatly to the overall predictive nature of the exam.

John Livingston, counselor and SAT coordinator at Bloomington High School South, said the changes to the test are positive. Many school officials and students have been asking for change, and the new test will be more relevant to students, he said.

He said the test will relate more to what students are already learning in the classroom, instead of requiring that students study vocabulary outside of school.

Livingston said all students will most likely improve, so comparing students against one another would still be relevant.

Livingston said although Indiana has always been an “SAT state,” the ACT’s popularity has been growing.

“It seems like this is market driven,” he said.

Livingston said the SAT is changing because students have a choice in tests, and the SAT seems to be aligning more with the ACT.

The exam will also contain passages from important documents in American history, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers. Students will no longer be penalized for an incorrect answer.

The math section will focus on three topics — algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and advanced math.

Adam Terwilliger, math department chair at Bloomington High School North, said the math section of the SAT will now focus more on applied knowledge instead of procedural problems.

Terwilliger said the procedural components are important to learn, but it is also important for students to be able to apply knowledge to outside world situations. He said the math curriculum won’t change much, but changes will be made in how the questions are asked.

College Board President David Coleman said the Board will expand the organization’s reach to college-ready, low-income students to also help them in the college application process.

Every income-eligible student who takes the SAT will be given four fee waivers for applying to college. 

“We can cut through so much red tape and hesitation by giving students the admission fee waivers they need, information they understand and the encouragement they need to apply more broadly,” Coleman said in the press release.

The Board will also partner with Khan Academy to provide all students with free SAT preparation. This free preparation is expected to be released in spring 2015.

For students who are currently taking the SAT, they can access hundreds of previously unreleased practice problems on the Khan Academy website, as well as video tutorials for the problems.

“For too long, there’s been a well-known imbalance between students who could afford test-prep courses and those who couldn’t,” Sal Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy, said in the press release.

“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 students.”

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