According to the article “Major changes coming to 2016 SAT test” from CNN.com, the SAT will have a complete revamp by 2016. However, the format is not as different as one would think. Apparently, College Board is reversing the changes made in 2005, as well as reevaluating vocabulary and allowing students to choose whether or not they want to take the essay portion.
I have seen this article circulate through my personal Twitter feed as upperclass high school students are upset by the news. “Why couldn’t this have happened before I took it?!” is the common response. And by reading the article, I understand the frustration: perhaps the SAT is becoming easier?
Though the standardized test is still meant to challenge students, here is a list of the major changes:
1. “No longer will it be good enough to focus on tricks and trying to eliminate answer choices”
This has always personally frustrated me while taking the SAT. I took the test more than once and even received help from a variety of programs in hopes of improving my math score. Not only did the programs not help me understand the material, but they only focused on these “tips” that were to help decipher the SAT’s hieroglyphic, encrypted code. The current SAT is not designed to measure a student’s knowledge, but to test their ability to deduce answers and correctly guess out of a 50/50 chance. Therefore, this change, in my opinion, will benefit the students.
2.”We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying their answers.”
In the same paragraph, this statement is mentioned. Now, many students may be intimidated by this component, though we have been justifying our answers in class since we started school. Unless the test is on scantron (and I will admit, a majority are nowadays), there is always a “Why?” question or even the “show your work” part of a math test. So though this may frighten students and want them to shy away from the SAT, if they are going to choose the ACT over SAT, this should not be the reason why.
3. No longer will test takers be penalized for choosing incorrect answers.
This is probably the greatest change that is coming to students and just may be their saving grace. No longer will students have to erase their answer because they do not feel “100% confident” that answer A is more applicable than answer C. Without penalization for guessing, students can now stop biting their nails and breaking their necks moving back and forth between two answers that both fit the bill. Just pick one and move on. No consequences.
Now that students know what the changes are, I’m sure they can all agree that it is for the best. Yes, change is scary. And yes, for students who have already taken the SAT and won’t be around to see the changes in action, change is unfair. But I think the real beauty in this change is the reason.
When asked why the SAT is changing, since the last change was almost a decade ago, the article states, “[College Board President and CEO David] Coleman cited the need to create more opportunities for students, rather than obstructing them with test questions that felt detached from their educations and the preparation colleges needed.”
And straight from the mouth of Coleman? “Standardized tests have become far too disconnected from the work of our high schools. They’re too stressful for students, too filled with mystery and ‘tricks’ to raise scores and aren’t necessarily creating more college-ready students.”