College Counseling Reacts to Reformed SAT

On March 5, the College Board announced that the company’s current Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) will be reformatted for the spring of 2016. Similar to the ACT, the redesigned exam will include an optional essay and will not penalize for incorrect answers. Rather than testing students on obscure words, the vocabulary section will focus on relevant words that students are more likely to come across during their time at college. The goal of the newly formatted SAT is to make it more relevant to today’s students and to specifically target material covered in high school classrooms, according to Sean Logan, Director of College Counseling. “I think the main reason was to make the SAT ‘fairer’ and to make it more relevant to today’s kids. … They are taking out a lot of the gimmicky questions like vocabulary words that people rarely use and [making] it much more centered on critical thinking and reading skills,” said Logan. “The cynical reason [for the shift] would be that the ACT took over the SAT in terms of market share, so I think they were starting to lose market share, and they wanted to make themselves more relevant and a bigger presence,” he continued. Due to lack of substantial information regarding the content of the test, nothing has been planned so far by the College Counseling Office to respond to the new format, according to Logan. “The College Board has sort of rolled out their initial ‘hey, here’s what we’re doing,’ but I think the test will become much more tangible with more hard information on what’s going to be in it, etc. As of right now, I don’t think there’s much to do. … The short answer is: it is to be determined,” said Logan. Although the majority of Andover students in the class of 2014 took the SAT, over half of the class of 2014 took the ACT, often in addition to the SAT, according to Logan. Unlike the SAT, the ACT started out with an objective to test what the students were learning in classrooms. Although speculation suggests that the new format will be “easier,” Logan said that this may not necessarily be the case. “It will be testing students in a different way, in that it will be more geared towards what you are learning in class and how you are learning it,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what the new SAT ultimately looks like and how kids will perform on it,” he continued. College Board has announced that the new SAT will revert back to its original 1600 point scale and optional writing section. In 2005, the College Board changed the SAT to its current 2400 point scale with a required writing section. “[The writing section] will be a very different type of writing. For example, the old SAT writing didn’t have to be factually correct, as long as the evidence backed up your statement; however, that may not be the case anymore,” said Logan. Andover has not yet made specific action in response to the new change in the SAT, but just last year it has begun a partnership with a test prep company, “PrepWorks,” to provide students a high-quality test prep option that will prepare students for both the SAT and the ACT. Currently, the Senior and Upper classes have access to this online program, and the Lower class will have access to it within the month.