March 18th, 2013, 4:08pm, Topics: SAT, ACT, college board, SAT changes, PSAT, college entrance exam
Amidst growing competition from the ACT and criticism from some educators, the College Board announced this week that they will undertake a major renovation of the SAT. This creates great uncertainty for rising juniors and sophomores who may want to begin studying for the SAT this summer as questions swirl. How much will the test change? Which sections will be affected? When will new test prep materials be available? How can a student prepare if new sample tests or new PSATs are not available? While much is unknown, here are a few things that families with high school students should know.
While the SAT maintained its market dominance for many years, that ended in 2011 when the ACT surpassed the SAT as the most popular college entrance exam in the US. Losing market share and facing criticism about whether the SAT is an accurate predictor of college success, the College Board began to feel the pressure. Then in 2005, the SAT added a writing section, and soon news stories raged debating the value of making students write an essay on a topic like reality television. Meanwhile, colleges began flocking to the Fairtest movement with many elite liberal arts colleges and major catholic universities dropping their SAT and ACT requirements.
While the exact nature of the changes has not yet been announced, it is believed that the SAT will be revised to better measure what is learned in the classroom as it continues to move away from its origins as the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The College Board officially renamed the test simply the “SAT” in 1993, but many educators and test experts still feel that the test remains rooted in an aptitude. Speculation is that the writing and critical reading sections will be the most heavily revised on the SAT. How much the math section will be affected remains a mystery.
Since it is expected that this will be a major change, it could be 2-3 years before the new test is released. There is likely to be controversy internally and scrutiny externally that will make this an arduous process for the test writers; experts speculate that this will not be a quick fix. Whether it will affect student in the class of 2015, 2016 or 2017 is uncertain. It seem unlikely that the changes will be complete in time for the class of 2015, but we won’t know for certain until the College Board releases more information, and for now they are keeping their lips sealed about any details.