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The New SAT Is The Old SAT: Details On Changes To The Test
College Board President David Coleman attends an announcement event, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Austin, Texas where College Board officials  announced updates for the SAT college entrance exam, the first since 2005, that are needed to make the exam a College Board a better representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. (AP)

College Board President David Coleman attends an announcement event, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Austin, Texas where College Board officials announced updates for the SAT college entrance exam, the first since 2005, that are needed to make the exam a College Board a better representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. (AP)

The announcement Wednesday that the College Board would be changing the way it administers its college admission exam the SAT sent the recently-graduated world a buzz. The pricey college test prep market — not to mention the legions of current high school students diligently preparing to take the test that only might determine the rest of their lives (we kid, we kid) — make the College Board’s proposed changes a big story.

Thankfully, we were lucky enough to have Chronicle of Higher Education senior writer Eric Hoover explain the many changes for us, and answer a few listener questions about the specifics of the SAT tweaks.

Highlights of the Interview

The A.C.T. is catching up on the SAT. “You used to see a regional breakdown. The A.C.T. has become much more of a national test.”

New leadership at the College Board reflects new priorities. “Is the test more closely tethered to skills that they’re honing in high school and that they’ll clearly need in college?”

The SAT is still the SAT. “If you think of the SAT as a car travelling through time, it’s still the same car.”

– Evidence is more important. “You’re now gonna have to show, ‘here’s the right answer,’ and ‘here’s what got me to that answer.”

The math section is focusing on the core. “The new strategy is to cover less of a wide area, but drill down deeper on a handful of core math topics.”

The College Board is taking on test prep. “People are potentially optimistic for the test-prep partnership with the Khan Academy to level the playing field.

1600 is the old 2400. The SAT is reverting back to the 1600 point scoring system, and no longer punishes takers for incorrect answers.

What do you think of the SAT changes? Will it make a difference? Do you agree with our caller who said the test has an income-level discrimination at its core?

 

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  • Kathryn King

    I am a gigantic fan of On Point and was astonished at the flaccid reporting on the SAT you broadcast today. As any mother of a college-age kid can tell you, the SAT is harder than the ACT. College admissions officers have been extremely careful over the years to insist that they didn’t care whether your child took the SAT or the ACT, mostly to be politically correct and avoid the appearance of favoritism for one test over the other. But all you need to do is look at the tests. My daughter took both tests, and more than once, and she said there is no comparison in terms of what is demanded of the student. So over the years more and more students have taken the ACT – why? Because they got better scores on the ACT. Not because it more accurately reflects the zeitgeist of the times or it takes a more philosophical approach to learning or any other B.S. currently being floated by the profit-making organization that administers the ACT. Since the College Board is also a profit-making venture, which you did point out, it decided to lower the standards required to pass the SAT, so that more students would take the test and the College Board would then make more money. It is as simple as that. It is shameful that you have not called a spade a spade in this situation.

    The fact that the ACT relates more closely to the everyday vocabulary of the typical high school graduate is exactly the problem! In other words, when the U.S. educational system is confronted with students’ dismal performance in science, math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, English grammar and a host of other disciplines which – well learned – serve as the basis of a decent liberal arts education, what does the system do? It dumbs itself down to the level of the underachiever. It doesn’t reconstitute itself to better educate its children. It figures out how to make things work so that the least people are embarrassed by not being able to pass the tests, while squeezing out the maximum amount of money for the test administrators.

    This whole system works really well until the charts comparing competence in standardized tests worldwide are published each year and the U.S. ranks somewhere between Romania and Uzbekibekibekistan. Then it becomes clear that in continually relaxing our own standards to ease students’ tension and make more profit, we trick and delude only ourselves.
    A steadfast but disappointed fan,
    Kathryn King

    • nkandersen

      Kathryn,

      Thanks so much for your thoughts on the SAT! It’s definitely something we’ve considered doing an entire hour on to get in to just the kinds of issues you mention in your comment. Unfortunately, given the constraints of our partial segment on the hour, we weren’t able to fully devote the time the subject probably deserved. But please know that we hear you, and we’ll bear your thoughts in mind the next time we talk about standardized tests!

      Best,

      nick andersen
      web producer | on point radio

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