to Face Newly Designed SAT||
SAT, a milestone for most high school students, will bring new challenges this
Saturday for the estimated 300,000 members of the class of 2006, including harder
math questions and a controversial essay.
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College Board, which owns the SAT, says the new Standardized Aptitude Test will
better reflect what students are learning in their coursework.
changes, first announced three years ago, come in response to criticism from college
admissions officers and high school guidance counselors.
a lot of colleges are just looking at how much emotional and psychic energy [the
SAT is] taking up," Brad MacGowan, a guidance counselor at Newton North High
School in suburban Boston, told the Associated Press. "They're saying this
should not be driving education."
In 2001 the president of the University
of California argued that the SAT was unfair to minority students and not a good
predictor of a student's true abilities. Expensive test-prep courses gave rich
students an unfair advantage over poor students, he said.
The large university
system says it will study the new exam over three years to determine any improvements.
new test |
This year's SAT does
not have analogies or quantitative comparisons, but it does have harder algebra
II and geometry math questions and a greater stress on critical reading. A maximum
score, once 1600, will now be 2400.
But perhaps the most significant change
to test is the addition of a writing section with multiple choice questions on
grammar and a student-written essay. Students will have 25 minutes to draft a
persuasive essay -- without the help of a computer.
Trained high school
and college instructors who teach courses that require a lot of writing will score
essays using a holistic approach in which essays are judged by the total impression
"We know that writing skills are important for academic
and career success, and we hope that the addition of writing to the SAT will generate
support for educators who emphasize writing," said Photo Anagnostopoulos,
senior vice president for the College Board.
like Mark Franek, an English teacher and dean of students at the William Penn
Charter School in Philadelphia, disagree. The best writing is not created in less
than half an hour under extreme pressure, Franek argues in a recent Christian
Science Monitor editorial.
"Students would be better served by consistently
reading the commentary section of the local newspaper -- and then periodically
writing letters to the editor -- than by sitting through the painfully boring
lesson plans that these changes to the SAT are likely to inspire," he said.
Others think the new essay adds a subjective grading factor to what used
to be a fully standardized and objective test.
"I don't see how someone
can judge the way I write and determine my score. ... People judge writing differently,"
junior Samantha Deffler told New Jersey's Courier News. "I've had different
teachers that have judged my writing differently."
other test takers are excited about the changes in the SAT.
bad at taking multiple-choice tests," Katie Hardy, a sophomore, told the
Courier News. "So I'm glad they're putting a writing section on it, because
I know I'm probably better at writing an essay than guessing on a multiple-choice
preparation companies are happy with the changes too.
"The fear and
anxiety associated with changes in the SAT are good for our business," Andy
Lutz, vice president for program development at the Princeton Review, a leading
test-preparation company, told The Washington Post. "It was a boon for our
business the last time the SAT changed significantly 10 years ago, and we are
seeing an equivalent boost this time around."
Students spend over
$310 million a year on test prep classes and materials.
the test altogether|
students who want to avoid the debate over the SAT's predictive quality there
are colleges that don't require standardized tests. Bates College, a small liberal
arts college in Maine, is one of them.
"When I'm stuck, I go back to
the recommendations, to the student's writing, to the interview," admissions
dean Wylie Mitchell said. "What do you want? A highly motivated student,
or a good tester?"
Compiled by Annie Schleicher for Online NewsHour Extra