by WENDY TRIEU
Many have criticized the SAT for its esoteric vocabulary words, 25-minute essay and most of all, for not concentrating on critical academic skills.
Because it was not based on what students learnt in high school, many students and parents were dissatisfied with the test, so the College Board has finally decided to change the unpopular college admission exam, which has been hated for years.
More and more colleges have stopped requiring the SAT and ACT for admission. A UC Berkeley study shows that high school grades are better predictors than the SAT of college freshman grades, cumulative GPA and four-year graduation.
Another study by William C. Hiss, former dean of admissions at Bates College and Valerie W. Franks, former Bates assistant dean of admissions, also shows that the SAT is a poor indicator of student performance. At public universities, students who had significantly higher high school GPAs but below average standardized test scores had higher college GPAs than students who had lower high school GPAs but higher testing scores.
The SAT will undergo dramatic changes that will begin in the spring of 2016. It will go back to the old 1600-point scale, with 800 being the highest score for both Math and “evidence-based reading and writing,” and the essay being optional. No longer will obscure vocabulary words be tested, instead replaced by words that are actually used at the college-level like “synthesis.”
Last year, more students took the ACT instead of the SAT. So now, according to Seppy Basili, vice president of Kaplan Test Prep, the College Board is trying to change the material on the SAT so it is more like the ACT, which reflects more than the current SAT what students learn in high school. Basili said, “These are all things the ACT has done for decades. It does reflect what students do in school and is the fairest way to test students.” (csmonitor.com)
David Coleman, president of the College Board, says that the new exam is redesigned so it is more about what students should be learning in high school and not about test-taking tricks and strategies. (nytimes.com)
Expensive test-prep classes and tutors for the SAT, a $4.5-billion a year industry today, wealthy students a great advantage over students who could not afford such pricey test preparation. However, Coleman hopes the new SAT will curb this practice. “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” he said. (nytimes.com)
The SAT has been hated by many students, educators and parents since they believe it is not based on what is taught in high school and because it is unfair since wealthy students had a great advantage over students who could not afford costly test preparation.
The College Board is going in the right direction by changing the test so it is more about core academic skills and providing equal opportunity for all, not just the privileged.