Thursday, March 6, 2014

College Board Announces New Plans for the SAT

The College Board announced on Wednesday, March 5th, their plans for changing the SAT. Saying that the test does not focus enough on the academic skills most important for higher education and the working world, the main changes are the elimination of obligatory essays, removing the penalty for guessing wrong on the provided questions, and cutting obscure vocabulary words from the Reading section that are not applicable or relevant within higher education.

David Coleman, College
Board President
David Coleman, president of the College Board, argued that the SAT "has become disconnected from the work of our high schools." A large motivator for the change comes from the common criticism that high school grades are a better predictor for success in higher education than standardized testing, so much so that some colleges have made these test grades an optional portion of the application and enrollment processes. The changes are meant to bring the test back to the same wheelhouse as the topics discussed in high school settings, thus allowing for a better metric of success for students intending on applying for college.

Along with the announcement of the changes to the SAT, Mr. Coleman announced new policy changes for The College Board. First, if a student qualifies, they can receive four fee waivers to apply to colleges, free of charge. They will also be offering free online practice problems from previous tests, along with instructional videos showing how to solve them.

The changes to the SAT are quite extensive. Beginning with the reading section, the vocabulary used will be shifted to what College Board considers to be "rarefied" to words that are common in the college setting. The math questions, once varying over a litany of different areas and topics, will not be focused on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking. The essay section, once mandatory, will now be an optional portion at the end of the test, along with a separate score. The test will be offered on both paper and on a computer. Finally, the scoring metric will revert back to a 1600 range, where a student's top score on the Math section and the "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing" can be 800, each.

This exam will be released in the Spring of 2016. Are these changes good for the test as a whole? Are these changes that could potentially bring the test in line with what is learned within the average high school? High school testers, along with college admissions offices, will make that determination in 2016.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I’m glad they are changing it. It doesn’t make any sense. SAT, ACT and GRE are truly a scam that doesn’t test anything but your ability to take tests. When people talk about higher education they want to think it’s a free flowing consortium of ideas. We research things that companies don’t normally research because it’s not overly profitable. What part of that does a standardized test show you? If you can graduate from high school with a 3.X+, you obviously did something for 4 years. What is a standardized test going to tell you that the GPA didn’t? Even if a student cheated their way to a 3.X+ gpa, they are obviously pretty dedicated to it. So the question is, what does the SAT and ACT really bring to the table that you don’t already know? Is there a correlation between SAT/ACT and GPA? What I mean is, do people with a high GPA generally score high on the ACT/SAT and the people with a lower GPA score lower on the ACT/SAT? You would be better off continuing with the idea of a national standardized test that students take over the years that way at least universities can see a student’s progression over the years instead of just one test.

On another note, the GRE is just as bad. As an example, I have a BS in electrical engineering with a 3.X+ GPA. When applying for graduate school everyone wants your GRE scores. I’m curious though, which part of the GRE are they looking for? The GRE tests verbal and quantitative reasoning then analytical writing. What’s the point? Is it that graduate programs don’t trust undergraduate programs? Seems like these issues need to be addressed at the university level and accreditation level of things, if the university isn’t up to par then maybe they should lose their accreditation. The GRE tests basic verbal reasoning skills and quantitative skills around the college algebra and college English level skills. Is my coursework through calculus and differential equations not proof enough? Are the 2 semesters of comp and rhet and a semester of world lit not enough? What’s this test going to tell you? If I am getting a graduate degree in engineering and have a BS in engineering, don’t I obviously already have the necessary base skills? These tests simply don’t give any information that your degree already doesn’t.

These standardized tests are a part of an archaic system that is only perpetuated to keep these companies going. They don’t tell us anything we already know and can be a financial burden to students who would otherwise be well represented by the work they did over 4 years in high school.

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