Education in the News: New SAT Review One Year Later

By March 10, 2017Blog

A year ago tomorrow, March 11, the new SAT was being taken by over 3,000 students across the country. The new test was redesigned to better reflect the content students are learning in high school and what they will be required to learn in college.

In order to do this, the test eliminated the vocabulary section, made the essay optional, focused on the areas of math that students need to know the most for college, removed the penalty for guessing, gave students 43% more time per question on the SAT than on the ACT, removed the science section, and adjusted the scoring scale from 2400 to 1600.

First impressions

When the test was first released, a survey by Kaplan Test Prep reported that students found it easier than they were expecting. In fact:

  • 59% said that the questions were straightforward and easy to follow
  • 48% said the test was what they expected
  • 30% said it was more difficult than expected
  • 22% said it was less difficult than they expected

A survey from the the College Board, which surveyed more than 8,000 students who took the test, reported that students preferred the new format of the SAT over the previous version by a “6 to 1 margin.” 71% of the students said that the test reflected what they were learning in school.

A year later

With that in mind, how has the test done this past year?

According to the most recent release from the College Board, students still prefer the new version to the older one. 80% of students feel more comfortable taking the new SAT, and 59% of students believe that it is easier than the original version. The results of the survey also showed that a majority of students felt that they were being tested on what they had learned in school.

One major nod to the new test from students has been the removal of a penalty for guessing. The SAT has been known as a stressful test that gives students with test anxiety a hard time in proving themselves to colleges. This new feature takes the pressure off of guessing an answer you don’t know.

Parents and teachers also agree with students’ positive review. The College Board survey found that parents are six times more likely to prefer their children taking the new test over the old version. And six out of 10 teachers are in support of the new test. Still, people have concerns. Most critics are concerned about the validity of the test and whether the changes were done as an easy way to increase scores. For colleges that are trying to discern which students are academically right for them, it’s hard when so many are scoring so high.

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