Created in the 1920s, the SAT has been an important instrument used by America’s colleges and universities in determining the incoming freshmen class. I think we can all agree that any standardized test can be intimidating. The SAT is a test that is an important determining factor in what college you will attend, and consequently in determining your future.
This year, in 2016, the College Board has decided to make drastic changes to the March 2016 SAT. Changes, like the ones found in the March test, have never been this drastic in the last few decades. Although this can be extremely scary, especially for the first batch of students who took the exam last Saturday, being prepared is key.
The main difference that is coming with the new SAT is the scoring system. No longer will the exam be out of a 2400 score, but rather it will be based off a 1600-point system. This was the score system until 2005 when College Board changed the system to a 2400. Now, it will return to its original 1600. The length of the test will also change, but not as significantly. The time of the exam will switch from a 3 hour 45 minute test to a 3-hour test (with an additional 50 minutes for any student taking the optional essay). Yes! The SAT essay has become optional. While the essay used to be a non-optional 25-minute section, the new SAT is administering an optional 50-minute essay section. The old SAT expected a student to respond to a theoretical prompt, while the new SAT focuses more on school- based skills, expecting a student to analyze another essay.
You still have not seen enough benefits for the new SAT? Another difference which students are ecstatic about is that there is no penalty for guessing an incorrect answer. The old test had a 0.25-point reduction for each incorrectly guessed answer. Trust me, the points can add up! One of the biggest complaints about the old SAT was the never-ending list of obscure vocabulary words that students were expected to memorize. The new SAT has gotten rid of the need to spend hundreds of hours memorizing these kinds of words.
There are of course the things that don’t change! Yes, you still have to drag yourself out of bed early on a Saturday morning, and yes, you still have to spend consecutive hours reading, thinking, concentrating, and bubbling in letters.
Kathryn Rice, a junior at IHA, who took the March SAT has shared her opinion before taking it. “Even though there are many benefits that are coming with the new SAT, we can’t forget that no one knows what the actual test will be like.” Rice is correct. The College Board has only released four official practice tests, which is not a lot of material to study with. “I am just going to have to hope for the best!” Best of luck to all the students who took the exam on March 5th!
By Christine Jacob ’17, Features Editor