Students Welcome Changes to the SAT College Test - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Students Welcome Changes to the SAT College Test

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An overhaul is coming to the SAT come spring of 2016. It shows a big effort from the CollegeBoard to administer an exam that actually tests what students learn in school.

One of the biggest changes: 1/3 of the test, the writing section, will be made optional.

This is commonly the section that students find most difficult to prepare for, due to the subjectivity of grading. With that removed from the base score, a perfect SAT score will return from 2400 to 1600.

Other sections will see a change towards more realistic content. For example, today's SAT word of the day is "palatial," which means "like a castle, or magnificent." Words like that will be swapped for more common vocabulary.

And on the math section, calculator use will be more limited.

These are changes that Erie students and administration find welcoming.

Cathedral Prep is one school that offers their students a lot of support when it comes to taking the SAT. David Albrecht, a junior, is gearing up to take the test in May. He says it's too bad that he can't take the new version.

"I believe the new SAT test will really evaluate the students' skills more towards what they've been learning in high school, as opposed to trying to give them a test that's evaluating how well they take a test," Albrecht said.

Testing those "test taking skills" instead of actual knowledge has been one of the biggest criticisms for the SAT in years past.

Though Prep senior Shaun Evans scored a perfect 2400 on the current test, he still critiqued the old format.

"The way the writing section is structured now, it's a 25-minute, timed essay on a somewhat abstract prompt. And I just don't think it's representative of what you're required to do, in the classroom or elsewhere," Evans said.

But students who consider writing their best skill don't need to worry. The new optional essay portion will give students 50 minutes, and also provide documents for the test takers to reference during the test. This new format will be more comparable to how writing is done in real-world settings.

Finally, CollegeBoard is teaming up with online educator, the Kahn Academy, to provide students with free SAT prep courses.

"I know that classes that people take involve a significant financial payment, so people who have certain resources might've been able to gain an unfair advantage that way. This might help level the playing field," Evans said.

The next round of SAT testing - still the old version - will be in May of 2014.

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