SAT-PrepWith all of the hype, I would wager that the recently announced changes to the SAT will be around for a while. The last big change was in 2005 when analogies and quantitative comparisons were dropped and the Writing Section was added to make the exam almost 4 hours long. The College Board recently released more information about the redesigned SAT scheduled to debut in March, 2016.

Here’s your preview of the new test . . .

As of now, there are three multiple choice sections of the SAT:

• Critical Reading Skills: with an emphasis on picking up on nuanced implications and inferences and vocabulary in terms of choosing the word or words that ‘fits’ a sentence’s core idea best
• Logical Reasoning with Numbers: but does not actually test much high level math
• Writing (grammar): by having students identify sentence errors and best sentence restatements
• Essay Writing: which many schools do not even consider – asks students to take a stance on a rather global often controversial topic

So what’s up with the newest SAT? There are now two multiple choice sections and an optional essay*:

• Evidence-Based Reading, Writing and Language: which still focuses on critical thinking as well as a stronger emphasis on the skills and knowledge mandatory for college and career success. Such skills include analyzing a sequence of paragraphs to make sure that they are not only correct substantially but grammatically as well. Students will be asked to interpret graphics and edit the accompanying passages. There will be a greater emphasis on the meanings of words in extended context as well as how word choice impacts meaning and tone.
• Math Section: will focus on “math that matters most”: problem solving and data analysis, linear equations and systems, and more complex equations and systems. Studies have shown that competency in
these areas of math contribute to college and career readiness. The math sections will also include multi-step applications to solve problems in social science, science, career scenarios and other real life applications.
• 50 minute Optional Essay: now at the end of the exam – tests not only writing skills but reading and analysis.

*There are many more ‘moving parts’ and overlapping skills on the redesigned SAT in that the sections are not as black and white as before. This in itself may make it a fairer exam especially since it appears to echo the Common Core standards. i.e. more achievement based.

So what’s it really like?

• The multiple choice will have only four options instead of five
• Gone is the penalty for an incorrect answer
• The critical reading section will take 65 minutes, and have 52 multiple choice questions based on several passages totaling just over 3,000 words: 40% science, 40%, history/social studies, and 20 literature

“The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions.”
Intense: most nearly means: (A) emotional (B) concentrated (C) brilliant (D) determined. The answer is B.
In excerpting an historical document, i.e. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, the student may be asked about the multiple uses of the word ‘dedicate’ from the speech.

• The 35 minute written language test will have 44 questions. It tests college and career readiness in editing and revising a variety of texts in a range of content areas. The areas tested are conformity to the conventions of standard written English grammar, punctuation and usage as well as expression of ideas.

Dong Kingman: Painter of Cities
A 1954 documentary about renowned watercolor painter Dong Kingman shows the artist sitting on a stool on Mott Street in New York City’s Chinatown. A crowd of admiring spectators watches as Kingman squeezes dollops of paint from several tubes into a tin watercolor (1) box, from just a few primary colors, Kingman creates dozens of beautiful hues as he layers the translucent paint onto the paper on his easel.
(B) box. From just a few primary colors,
(C) box from just a few primary colors,
(D) box, from just a few primary colors
(The answer is B)

(SIDE NOTE: This type of question is very similar to the types of grammar questions on the English section of the ACT.)

• The 80 minute math test contains 57 questions. Most are multiple choice and some are student response – as is presently contained on the exam. The calculator will not be allowed for 25 minutes of the test.



Both answers are C.

• The optional 50 minute essay may be required by most colleges. Students will be asked to analyze a given argument rather than take a stance. The analysis may be from a published work such as, poet Dana Dioia’s essay on “Why Literature Matters”.

Students taking the SAT now are actually experiencing the redesigned SAT in the experimental sections. Their reaction? Interesting.

So when all is said and done will this be a ‘fairer’ test? It appears to be more of an achievement test, more related to school work. So in that regard it may be a much fairer test.

My take? I’ve always respected the SAT as I think it is a good test to measure a student’s critical reading and analytic skills. Students that are avid readers always do well and will continue do so regardless of any changes. So what does that tell you? Read, study hard, take challenging courses and get good grades. Perhaps that will matter even more come 2016.

What is your take on the redesigned SAT? I would love to hear your comment, please leave them in the section below.


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