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College Board plans changes for the SAT exam

The College Board is redesigning the SAT test to better measure students’ college readiness.
The College Board is redesigning the SAT test to better measure students’ college readiness.
CCarlstead/flickr

The SAT, a standardized aptitude test required by many colleges for admission, is undergoing a redesign, the College Board announced on March 5. Gone will be the deduction for selecting an incorrect answer, and the essay portion will be optional. The SAT redesign is intended to better measure a student’s readiness for college.

“We will build on the remarkable care and expertise which statisticians have used to make the exam valid and predictive. While we build on the best of the past, we commit today that the redesigned SAT will be more focused and useful, more clear and open than ever before." — College Board President David Coleman

The extensive lists of esoteric vocabulary words are dropped from the new exam; students instead must demonstrate knowledge of vocabulary they will regularly encounter in college and career. Reading and writing skills will be measured by a student’s ability to analyze sources and support arguments with textual evidence.

Each exam will require students analyze real-world texts and data. Students must be able to identify and correct inconsistencies between the two. A passage from one of the American Founding Documents, or works inspired by these documents, will be included on each exam.

The math portion of the SAT will concentrate on three areas: Problem solving and data analysis, essential algebra skills and what the College Board refers to as passport to advanced math. Strength in these three areas indicates a student’s readiness for college-level work, according to the College Board. By focusing on fewer core areas of math, students will be better able to prepare for this section of the SAT.

The College Board will reveal the complete exam specifications, along with sample items, on April 16. The first administration of the new exam is scheduled for 2016. The College Board will post updates at their new microsite Delivering Opportunity.