When Raul Ortiz opens his SAT test book on March 5, he can expect to see a few changes to the exam.
The SAT is being redesigned and refocused on the few things that evidence shows matter most for college and career success, said Jose Rios, the director of multicultural communications at College Board.
Rios said the redesign is an effort to step away from costly test preparation and allow the students to use only knowledge learned in the classroom instead.
The new SAT will return to a 1,600-point scale and there will be no penalty for wrong answers. Rios said this test is more focused and useful than previous versions.
Ortiz, a P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School junior and soccer player, said he is fine with the changes made — as long as he receives proper classroom instruction.
“From the outside looking in, I’m pretty happy with the changes made,” Ortiz said. “I think changing it to reflect classroom knowledge will make it easier to do well as long as the high school is teaching its students the right way.”
The changes consist of interpreting words in context, using sources to enhance reading and writing, an optional essay analyzing a source, a focus on math that uses ratios and percentages to solve problems in the career world, and analysis questions in science and in history. Additionally, there will be a focus on U.S. founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Rios said to make it easier for students to succeed, the College Board and Khan Academy, an online educational website, are offering practice tests to all students.
Ortiz is already using these resources to study.
“I’ve used Khan Academy for the old SAT as well, so I was able to compare the new format and types of questions,” he said.
Rios said about 1.6 million students take the SAT annually, and nearly all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., including test-optional universities, use the scores for admission or placement. State colleges do not require SAT scores for admissions.
Dot McGinnes, an admissions adviser at Santa Fe College, said the new SAT will not affect admissions at Santa Fe College.
“Since we are an open admissions institution, the SAT won’t really affect admissions,” she said. “Santa Fe and the other state community colleges do not use an admissions test. Instead, we use a state-mandated placement test to determine if the student is college-level in English, reading and math for placement purposes.”
McGinnes said if the student is not considered to be college ready in these subject areas, remedial classes are offered to help them prepare for the college-level courses.
Andrea Felder, the director of freshman and international admissions at the University of Florida, said the SAT will continue to receive the same consideration in the admissions process.
“College Board is trying to remove barriers for students that have not scored well in the past,” she said. “Research has shown first-generation college students and low-income students from each ethnicity such as white, African American and Hispanic have not scored as well on the past SATs, and College Board is trying to remove these barriers.”
According to Inside Higher Ed, SAT scores showed white and Asian students, on average, receive higher scores than black and Latino students and students from wealthier families score better than students from disadvantaged families.
College Board President David Coleman said that an increasing number of low-income students were having their SAT fees waived. This suggests more of them are taking the exam, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“This change is meant to give students a chance to show the admissions office what they have learned in high school,” Felder said.
Felder said although the new test will assist her in choosing the best applicants, standardized tests are only one factor in the admissions process at UF, which will continue accepting the ACT as well.
New minimum requirements for SAT scores for UF will be available later this year.
The university evaluates each candidate on a number of factors besides tests, including grade point average, course grades, class enrollment, extracurricular activities and a personal essay, she said.
Felder said the new SAT could also predict how well a high school’s curriculum is being taught and use results to evaluate students’ responsiveness.
“Only time will tell how the test is going to affect the students and college admissions,” she said.