SAT and ACT prep for changes in 2015

If  you are planning on taking the SAT or ACT in two years, you may be taking a different test than the one students are taking today.

Both the SAT and ACT tests will undergo significant changes starting in the spring of 2015.

According to the New York Times, College Board president David Coleman said that the SAT will shift its focus to analyzing evidence.

In addition, College and Career Center director Sandra Brod said that the new SAT will also reflect the content that students are exposed to in school.

According to the Kaplan Test Prep website, the College Board announced the SAT redesign on Feb. 26 in an email sent to its 6000 member schools.  Although the College Board has not announced the dates that the redesigned SAT will be released, the soonest date would be spring 2015.  Therefore, the new test will not affect current juniors and seniors.

Stanford professor emeritus Scott Pearson said that the testing changes will not greatly affect the first class of students to take the test because the evaluators will not yet have a baseline. The change will discount the significance of the scores and increase the significance of other parts of students’ applications, he said.

Coleman hopes to replace insignificant vocabulary words with more common words, according to the New York Times.

Changes will also come to the math sections.

“[The math section] should be about being able to explain, and see, the applications of this math,” Coleman said to the New York Times.

Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, an organization that opposes standardized testing in college admissions, said that the proposed changes are like painting lipstick on a pig because standardized testing is unnecessary in high quality college admissions.  He also said that the redesigned SAT will align with Common Core standards and that facts will matter in the essay section.

When the College Board redesigned the SAT in 2005, the PSAT changed first, in Oct. 2004.

According to the Kaplan website, “It will be worth watching to see if the PSAT changes first this time as well.”

English teacher Debbi Hill said that despite the planned changes in the SAT vocabulary section, the English department will continue to teach vocabulary the same way.

“I consider the vocabulary words significant and appropriate to learn,” Hill said.

Brod said that the change in the vocabulary section reflects the new vocabulary of the 21st century, so it is fairer to students.

Hill said that the change in standards for the essay portion is great because teachers emphasize supporting ideas in writing with evidence from sources. She said that writing an analytical essay requires higher level skills such as critical thinking.

Brod said that she is pleased with the planned changes but worries about the standardization of writing style.

“Writing is a craft,” Brod said.

Math teacher Mike Cincotta said that the redesign will not change his teaching.  He said that his classes already practice analytical thinking.

Because the Common Core standards are being implemented in PHS classes and the SAT is moving towards the Common Core, the test material will reflect what students learn in class, Hill said.

According to the New York Times, the ACT is creating a digital test with creative, hands-on questions but unchanged content which will be released in 2015. At first, students will have the choice between the paper and digital versions.

The digital version will include free-response questions in which students manipulate on-screen images to form their conclusions.

Brod said that she is concerned that students in other parts of the country do not have access to the technology necessary to take the digital ACT.

One possible reason for the changes is that the ACT surpassed the SAT in market share for the first time last year.  According to The New York Times, the redesigned SAT will inch closer in content to the ACT.

Schaeffer said that this shift is because of the SAT’s losses in market share.

“Students aren’t signing up for the tests and colleges are moving away from them,” Schaeffer said.

Brod said that the ACT has been gaining popularity among colleges and students because it follows high school curriculum.

Sophomore Chris Machle said that he is glad that the SAT is shifting its focus. “It will make studying more practical,” he said.

Brod said that students hoping to score well on the new tests should focus on mastering the content in their classes because both the SAT and PHS curriculum will start reflecting Common Core standards.

via SAT and ACT prep for changes in 2015 | The Piedmont Highlander.