Admission News

The New SAT: the Good and the Bad

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The SAT, starting in the spring of 2016, will be new. There are distinct improvements.

1. The new SAT is designed to check knowledge by replacing captious, puzzle-like questions with questions that ask about what is generally leaned in high school.

2. The essay section will be scored on both analysis as well as writing, and it will require evidence to support arguments.
3. Vocabulary testing will focus less on erudite words and more on words often used in college.

However, there are still problems with the new SAT.

1. The essay is optional, not required.
2. Because this is a timed test, it still emphasizes time management over knowledge.
3. The Sat is still a norm-referenced test.

To make the last point above clearer, you need to know both the SAT and the ACT are formulated to measure one student against another to create a bell-curve with most scoring in the middle and distinguishing a few at the top and the bottom. This distribution of scores results from embedding plausible answers beside the correct answer, asking students to answer many items in a short period of time, and tossing out any questions which too many students get right.

As you can see, as a test taker, you are pitted against the performance of other students under these conditions; you are not being tested on what you know against a standard of knowledge. If students can have test preparation that uses strategy and practice, they can perform better than students who know as much or perhaps more than they. Additionally, unfairness arises for those who cannot afford such test preparations.

The new SAT is now headed in the right direction but still remains a test that basically doesn’t predict college success as well as high school grades.