December 21, 2014
Ithaca, NY 29°F | Clouds

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The new SAT brings exciting prospect, despite the criticism

The College Board announced on March 5th that the SAT test has been revised from 2400 point scale to 1600 points scale and the change will be made effective in the spring of 2016. The new revised test will have three sections: “evidence-based” reading and writing, mathematics and an separately graded optional essay portion.

There are mixed reactions for the new SAT test, according to an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Unreliable predictor” for college success being the most dominant one and the new SAT can’t seem to compensate for that. Another criticism concerns the inequality SAT caused for less wealth students through the expensive tutoring products that only rich students can afford. SAT tries to address this issue by partnering up with Khan Academy to provide free online test prep services. This is a very plausible effort, and I think the College Board should be given credit for this.

From a personal standpoint, some changes are very plausible and practical. One of them being replacing “rarefied vocabulary with words common in college courses,” such as “empirical” and “synthesis.” The current SAT has a big emphasis on the basic knowledge of difficult and obscure words. Even though we don’t have to master those words, we are expected to know roughly what they meant and their applications in sentences. Some of the words did come up in my college career through various reading assignments, but most of them did not and it was quite a waste of my time having to study and memorize them. When I could be spending time doing more meaningful things. I am glad personally they recognize this flaw in the exam and shift the focus of the testing of vocabulary.

The new SAT also will not deduct points for wrong answers. I strongly agree with this change because at that time it seemed rather unfair to get penalized for wrong answers. The objective was to prevent students from guessing the answers but students get answers wrong not because we guess all the answers but more often we do not have the adequate knowledge to completely solve that problem, but we are halfway there and for the last part we take a leap of faith. It really is unfair for us to not only not get credit, but get penalized for the work that was not perfectly done. I am glad the College Board includes this into the change.

There are other changes, and there are other criticism. There are many problem caused by the existence of SAT, but it does provide a relatively fair platform for students to compete regardless of their backgrounds. This is particularly true for international students. SAT has been of great service to Higher Education for decades, it is still flourishing which means there is still a demand for it. Many colleges in the U.S. still require SAT/ACT scores and there hasn’t been too much complain about how misleading these scores are in the admission process. The College Board has apparently taken these criticism into consideration and has made adjustment accordingly, I am excited to see how these changes will pan out.