Major changes coming to the SAT in spring of 2016

By Ginger Shackelford & Leann Saunders

Staff Writers

For 67 years the SAT has been administered to future college applicants with minimal changes. This will change in the spring of 2016 when the test undergoes several major changes.

Students have mixed feelings about the changes coming to the age-old test.

“I’m looking forward to the new version of the SAT,” sophomore Cassie Toler said. “I have heard so many of my friends talk about the current test and it sounds awful. Hopefully, the changes will benefit me.”

Traditionally, students sign up for the SAT for the first time in the spring of their junior year and take it a second time in the fall of their senior year. Students are tested on their knowledge of reading, writing and math, and the test allows students to show colleges what they know and how well they can apply that knowledge. Scores vary depending on how well students test in each particular subject, although a big benefit is students can retake the test until they receive a score they are happy with. In addition to retaking the test, students best scores from each subject can be combined to get their best overall score possible.

“Taking the SAT can be very stressful because you know it could be what does or doesn’t get you accepted into college. On the other hand you know there is the advantage of being able to take it over again,” said senior James Cahoon.

The new SAT has eight key changes that will make the test more realistic for students. This new version will be based more on the curriculum, so knowledge students gain throughout the year will be vital in order to test well. These changes include: using relevant words in context, command of evidence, essay analyzing a source, focusing on the math that matters most, completing problems grounded in real-world contexts, analyzing science and history/social studies based on founding documents and participating in global conversation. Along with these changes, the SAT will no longer penalize students for wrong answers.

“The new SAT format will benefit the students because it is changing to the curriculum the students are taught while in high school and this will also make the SAT very similar to the ACT,” guidance counselor Marie White said.

The changes made in 2016 will squelch the most prominent controversy of the most recent version of the SAT: students that take the SAT are only tested on their abilities to test. The new format will focus on more realistic scenarios, some even based on documents and events that took place in history. These changes will allow the students to use knowledge acquired in the classroom and apply it to the test.

“It’s important to change the SAT to the curriculum so the material on the test is more relevant to the material we learn in school,” junior Berkley Whitehurst said.

The current SAT penalizes students for wrong answers by one-quarter of a point, which often leaves students only answering questions they are sure of. Following the ways of the ACT, the SAT in 2016 will remove this penalty. This will encourage students to answer all of the questions, increasing their chances of scoring higher.

“Taking the test will be a lot less stressful without a penalty for wrong answers,” junior Breanna Dehoog said. “I believe most students will benefit from this change.”