When College Board President David Coleman announced changes to the SAT tests last week, he also took aim at the multi-million dollar test prep industry with pointed comments about “tricks and tips” used to outsmart the widely used college admissions test.
Harriet Broder has been doing SAT test prep for more than 35 years and her Potomac-based Breakthrough Test Prep company has a client base of area students from many local public and private schools.
To Broder, the College Board’s latest change to the SAT doesn’t change much and Coleman’s take on test prep doesn’t cover the full picture.
“I couldn’t sleep at night if I were just helping people one day in their life,” Broder said. “You have to teach credible skills.”
That means reading comprehension, reading efficiency and a mindset going into the SAT test that Broder said many students don’t have.
“They go into it thinking they’re the victim and they’re being tricked,” Broder said. “You have to change your intention from, ‘I always do poorly on the reading passages,’ to something more positive. All the tips and tricks will fall through the cracks if that belief system of, ‘I’m going to do well on this test,’ is not in place.”
Changes to the SAT test starting in spring 2016 will include an optional essay. The existing essay section will be removed and the test will go back to a 1600 point scale with 800 points possible for the reading section and 800 points possible for the math section. The so-called guessing penalty, for which points are deducted for wrong answers, will be no more.
Each exam will include a reading passage from a founding document such as the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights or from a popular discussion of those texts. The College Board used Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From the Birmingham Jail” as an example. The vocabulary words will also change.