2016 SAT Changes... Necessary? Helpful?
Lizzi Ford '16
The SAT: the “test that shall not be named” for juniors, the exam that seniors are over- joyed to have completed, the assessment that strikes fear into the hearts of oh-so-naïve sophomores and freshmen, is changing. While upperclassmen stressed over finding prep classes and boxes upon boxes of flashcards this past year, the College Board finally came to their senses: the SAT has become “far too disconnected from the work of our high schools,” claims College Board President, David Coleman. Coleman has realized that, instead of knowledge, the SAT has been testing aptitude and success is based on how many prep classes a student can afford. He decided that some key changes to the test– taking away the penalty for wrong answers, making the essay optional, and ridding the test of bizarre vocabulary– would benefit both the students and the colleges. These alterations are not only helpful, but also necessary. Even though the new SAT will only benefit the present freshmen, I am relieved that the people in charge of this test understand that having to memorize “grandiloquence,” only to forget the definition an hour later, is just plain ridiculous.
But what was the trigger that finally gave these board members a much needed reality check? Well, the number of students taking the ACT has risen rapidly. In order to compete with the ACT, the SAT needs to appeal to students— and fast. The problem with this ever-present competition between test makers is that this ‘race to the bottom’ could considerably lessen the predictive quality of the tests for colleges as the test companies continue to cater to the students. This is when the inevitable question arises: “Is this unsustainable system something that one should support?”
Some of our own students, including freshman Nathan Dejan will experience these advantages first-hand. He believes that, “with the change, the fear of the SAT is lessened and [it] looks more welcoming. I plan to take the SAT, and I think that the change will attract more students to participate.” This optimistic outlook reflects the beneficial side to the changes: kids taking the new SAT are feeling more prepared to take a test that pushes even our brightest students to their limits.
Eoin Lyons, a junior who has taken the unrevised SAT twice, predicts that the “standard for a high score will be raised significantly. The changes, including more common vocabulary words and no penalty for incorrect answers, will result in students being expected to score closer and closer to 1600.” But will the pressure actually increase? With this in mind, are the changes still worth it?
Ms. Campoverdi, a college counselor, thinks, “the test that Freshmen will take versus the test that Sophomores will take will be a different test—not necessarily easier or more difficult.”
On the other hand, if students want to go to college., the SAT and ACT are simply expected facts of life. The only real choice one has is which test to take, which brings back the idea of the racing game played by the game-makers themselves. The standardized test companies have visible flaws, but the people taking the test can do essentially nothing to fix them... so why not sit back and reap the benefits of the SAT versus ACT competition?
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