by Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv College Admissions Expert
Wednesday, the Collegeboard released more details and sample questions for the new SAT that is currently in development. Scheduled to be released in 2016, the test creators have promised to make the test more relevant, eliminating rarely used vocabulary words and focusing more on questions that relate to the real world. Will they succeed? That remains to be seen, but from the sample questions released this week, the test certainly doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Here is what we can glean from the sample questions:
• Thematic changes focus on asking students to analyze things more, whether it is reading passages to ascertain the meaning of a vocabulary, interpreting historical speeches or understanding a scattergram.
• The Math section will focus heavily on Algebra, linear functions, data analysis, reading charts and problem solving. What time the “train left the station and when it will arrive” has been replaced by translating rupees into dollars and analyzing the percentage of fees incurred for pre-paid charge cards. Note that parts of the Math section will not permit the use of calculators.
• The Critical Reading section will become the Evidence Based Reading and Writing (optional) section and will focus on the analyses of texts not just from literature, but also from scientific, historical and social science sources.
• Assuming that most competitive colleges will require the Writing section (based on precedent from the ACT), students will go from writing for 25 minutes and taking a personal stance on an issue, to writing for 50 minutes and analyzing text.
What’s the Good News?
• Students won’t lose points for wrong answers
• A computerized version of the test will be offered
• The Collegeboard is partnering with Khan Academy to provide free online prep courses
• Fee waivers for college applications will be more accessible for low income students
How to Prepare
• Put away the vocabulary flash cards and read, read, read. Exposure to a variety of texts, the ability to interpret passages, and the recognition of words in a variety of contexts will be key.
A redesigned SAT due out in the spring of 2016 will no longer reward students for the rote memorization of semi-obscure word definitions, but instead emphasize “high utility” words they’re more likely to encounter in life.
Graduating seniors can throw their flash cards on the celebratory bonfire next year. When students sit down to try their pencils at the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the questions about vocabulary are going to be different — remodeled and revised, and for champions of obscure words, perhaps transmogrified.
Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to breeze through vocab sections, matching a word with definition B by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word means. Read more via This Is How the New SAT Will Test Vocabulary | TIME.com.
Click HERE to see a sample vocabulary question (released by the College Board 3/2014) for the redesigned SAT.
“ACT Pilots First Digital Version of Its College-Entrance Exam” by Caralee Adams
The first wave of students took a computer-based version of the ACT this past weekend, marking a new era in college-admissions testing.
ACT Inc., based in Iowa City, Iowa, reports that 4,000 students at schools in 23 states took the test on computer on April 12. The schools had been selected by ACT and invited to participate in the pilot. Content of the exam is the same as in the traditional paper-and-pencil version, and the new digital scores are considered official for students to submit to colleges.
“The administration went very well overall,” Jon Erickson, the president of education and career solutions at ACT, said in a press statement. “As always at this stage, there were some technical issues, and we learned a great deal. We appreciate the participation of the students and high schools and their extra efforts during the process.”
The move to a digital version of the test is an effort to “meet young people in the world where they already live,” said Erickson. After the pilot, ACT plans to officially launch the digital version in selected states and districts in the spring of 2015, with expanded release in the spring of 2016. The option will be available only to districts and states that administer the test to all students on a school day, according to ACT officials. ACT Inc. has no plans to discontinue the paper-and-pencil version of the test, officials say, and will continue to offer it for as long as there is a demand.
As the result of research on testing methods, students who take the digital ACT are given five more minutes than in the paper-and-pencil version to complete both the reading test and the science test, adding 10 minutes total to the exam period. ACT officials may make adjustments to the time allotment after reviewing the pilot administration.
The College Board announced last month that it plans to offer a computer-based version of the rival SAT in the spring of 2016.