SAT test changes announced

A redesigned SAT test, to be administered first in spring 2016, was announced by the College Board on Mar. 5.

There will be three sections on the new test: evidence-based reading and writing, math and an optional essay. Scores will be reported out of 1600, with the reading/writing and math sections scored from 200-800, and the essay score reported separately. The 0.25 point deduction for incorrect answers will be removed. At some testing locations, the test will also be available on computers.

The reading and writing section will include vocabulary focused on “relevant words that students will use throughout their lives,” according to the College Board website. Questions will also test students’ ability to interpret evidence in nonfiction passages and graphics, especially problems based in science and social science. Each version of the test will also include an excerpt from one of America’s founding documents, hoping to “inspire deep engagement with text that matters.”

In the math section, questions will focus on problem solving, data analysis and algebra, as well as multistep real-life applications in “career scenarios” and the construction of mathematical models, according to the College Board. For the essay, students will read a passage and explain how the author builds the argument. The prompt will be shared in advance and remain consistent, but the passage will be changed.

According to Karl Hagen, Chief Education Officer at Summa Education, a test prep and college application development center, one of the biggest criticisms of the SAT is that it is “too divorced from the ordinary high school curriculum,” and the redesigned test attempts to address that problem, but whether it does so successfully will not be determined until its release.

Full specifications of the exam as well as sample questions for each section will be available on Apr. 16.