The Harbinger Online

A Shift In The SAT

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In the 88 year span of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), the test has changed its format several times. Now, starting in 2017, new changes to the SAT will be implemented across the United States. These changes will include scoring, timing, administration, the essay portion of the exam, the math portion and the reading and writing portion. The changes will only affect the class of 2017. For current sophomores, juniors and seniors, the test will remain the same.

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a standardized test run by the College Board, a private company in the United States, that approximately 1.6 million students take every year. The SAT is used to show colleges what students know and how well they are able to apply that knowledge in a test format. The test was first introduced in 1926, and was called the “Scholastic Aptitude Test”, and was changed to the “Scholastic Assessment Test” to which it is still called today.

In the fall of 2015, the PSAT (Plan SAT) will make changes as well, serving as a preview for the new SAT. There are 17 total changes to the SAT. The most major of these changes include the essay portion of the exam being changed from required to optional. If a student chooses to write the essay, the test is a total of three hours and fifty minutes, and without the essay it’s three hours total. Counselor Don Baker thinks this will help students play to their strengths or weaknesses.

“Some kids are going to love it because they don’t write as well, so now they get to choose,” Baker said. “It’ll be a mixed bag, some will be happy [about the essay being optional], and some will be unhappy.”

Another major change comes in the math portion of the exam. In the current exam, calculators are permitted for all math sections of the exam. Starting in 2017, the calculator is no longer permitted for any sections of the exam. Baker thinks that along with the no calculator rule, the overall math portion of the exam will change, balancing out the adjustment. Although Baker is not positive exactly how the overall format of the math portion will change, he does know that it will change in one way or another.

“With the no calculator rule being implemented, the test questions have to change, there’s no way kids can be expected to do some of those questions without a calculator,” Baker said. “I think it’ll be fine, though; they will make sure the questions are doable without a calculator.”

The last major change to the SAT is the number of questions on the test. The new SAT will feature fewer questions with a greater focus on in-depth analysis of content. This means that questions will be longer and more in depth, but fewer questions on the test overall. Senior Alex Maday, who took the SAT last year, thinks that with fewer questions, the test would be less difficult.

“I think with less questions it will be easier because timing was always an issue for me,” Maday said. “For me personally, less questions would make it more manageable.”

Counselor Don Baker thinks the changes are nothing to worry about. He knows there have been several changes made in the past, and doesn’t think the changes will affect students’ scores on the test.

“They’ve made lots of changes to the test in the past,” Baker said. “[By changing the test] they’re just trying their best to make the test better and as much of an accurate representation of students’ knowledge as possible.”

Freshman Hope Hess, who is part of the class of 2017 whom these changes will first affect, thinks the SAT will change in difficulty depending on the person.

“I haven’t taken [the SAT] before so I don’t know for sure, but I feel like it would be a little easier for me,” Hess said. “I think not having a calculator would be the hardest part because I’m not very good at math to start with. But I think the idea is that the SAT will be easier, but I also feel like it’ll be the same level of difficulty but just laid out in a different format than before.”

Baker has the same idea. He thinks that even though it’s different, it’ll be scored the same and kids will adjust to it the exact same way.

“They’ll make adjustments, and it’ll be fair because everyone will be scored on the same basis,” Baker said. “If everybody is judged the same, it’s going to be fine. The kids that are gonna score at the very top are gonna score at the very top, same for the kids who are going to score elsewhere.”

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