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Monday, March 10, 2014
SAT Gets a Face-Lift
Love it or hate it, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)---which turns 88 this year---has long been a primary fixture in the college admissions process. Originally, the test was designed to objectively measure academic merit. The wide variation of academic standards across the country's high schools meant that colleges needed a more accurate way of assessing talent.
To modern-day proponents, the SAT does just that. To critics, it has simply become a litmus test for affluence. Wealthy students do better for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost of test-prep workshops, tutors and materials.
In recent years, the SAT's invincibility has been questioned. Its main rival, and fellow college-readiness-assessment the ACT recently surpassed the SAT in popularity with test-takers. Nearly all colleges accept both. The ACT has a reputation for testing on material more relevant to high school coursework.
By contrast, the SAT has long relied on complex and often arcane methods of "testing" intelligence. The infamous verbal section once had students scrambling to memorize the definitions of words like "abnegation" and "pellucid"-whether or not any of that material was relevant to any of their high school English courses.
The salient changes to the current format include: 1) making the dreaded timed-essay optional, 2) shortening the exam by 45-minutes, 3) ditching the penalty points for wrong answers on the multiple choice section, and 4) banish the obscure vocabulary words.
Perhaps the best part is a commitment to FREE test-preparation on line.
College Board President David Coleman promised that the new test would, "offer worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles." Let's hope this is a worthy step towards a more level playing field.
Labels: SAT Gets a Face-Lift
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