College board to initiate new SAT test in March

Dana Shefet , Features Editor

Standardized testing makes up a large portion of high schoolers’ lives, and the most popular of them all is the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The current version of the SAT exam will be given on Feb. 20, where students worldwide will be testing to measure their knowledge and readiness for college. With the old SAT coming to a close throughout the country, many students are already preparing for the new exam that will be launched in March. The last change made to the test was over a decade ago in 2005.

The makeover of the world-renowned test differentiates in scoring and content from the old SAT. The old test had three sections; critical reading, writing and math. A perfect score of 800 on each section allowed for a maximum score of 2400 points. The new test contains two sections, math and reading, and a perfect score reaches up to a 1600. The remodeled version focuses less on difficult vocabulary and more on everyday learning and analysis.

In the redesigned exam, there is no longer a guessing penalty for an incorrect answer. On the old test, each incorrect answer would decrease the overall score by ¼ of a point, but this rule was removed in the redesign. There will be more graphs and word problems than before, and the questions will be based on data analysis. The essay portion of the test will now be optional, and students who choose not to write the essay will have 50 minutes less of testing on the day of the SAT.

“I do plan on taking the optional writing section of the SAT. It will show universities that I am willing to go through extra effort and time in order to show my abilities,” said Nisha Pandya, junior. Pandya has taken the old version once and is planning on taking the new test twice.

The idea of a makeover sprouted when the College Board, who administer the SAT, decided that the test should reflect more of what students are learning in class, particularly those in states who have appointed Common Core State Standards.

Many high school teachers and counselors fear their students are being “guinea pigs” for the new SAT that begins March 5. Due to the ample amount of resources available for the old version of the SAT, students feel more comfortable taking the old version that has been taken over 90 times by other students.

“I personally prefer taking the old SAT because there are more tried and true resources available, unlike the new SAT where many components are unknown,” said Katie Zotter, junior. She has taken the old SAT three times and does not plan on taking the revised test.

In order for students to take their last try at the old test, more than 351,000 students registered to take the exam Jan. 23. This is 10 percent more than the amount of students who were registered for the SAT in January 2015.

Other students are welcoming changes the remodeled SAT will bring, especially those who have succeeded with Common Core and real life implementations within education. Fariha Rahman, junior, has taken the old SAT twice and plans on taking the new test at least once.

“The new SAT seems more relevant to what I’ve learned in school. After taking the new PSAT last October, I felt reassured that I did well in contrast to the previous SAT. I would much rather prefer taking the new test,” said Rahman.

The class of 2017 will be the only grade that has the option to choose between the two tests, and many students have been faced with the decision of deciding which test is best suited for their learning style. Fortunately, many of the same reading analysis and basic math skills have remained the same, allowing students to succeed no matter what test they choose to take.