It’s 7:59 a.m. The clock strikes 8, and students open their test booklet with a swift turn of the page. The first section has begun: the 25-minute essay.
Sat., Jan. 23, was the last time this familiar scene occurred. The SAT has been redesigned, with its first release scheduled for Mar. 5. The SAT has transformed. A lot.
The old SAT was a 3 hour, 45 minute, test with 10 sections: an essay, three critical-reading sections, three writing sections, and three math sections. The redesigned SAT is three hours long—without the optional 50-minute essay.
The nine sections in critical reading, writing and math have transformed into just three sections of reading, writing/language, and math. Furthermore, 2400 has become a nonexistent number in the realm of the standardized test, as scores range anywhere from 1600 or less.
According to the College Board, the new SAT has been redesigned to focus on the “knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as most important for college and career readiness and success.” There is more emphasis on vocabulary when incorporated into “extended contexts” and how it “shapes meaning, tone, and impact.”
This is different than the old SAT, in which vocabulary questions focused mostly on definitions, without much context, and general-reasoning skills. To cap it all off, the deadly point deduction for an incorrect answer is now a misty memory with the new SAT because it only scores right answers.
As high-school students hastily studied for the last version of the old SAT being redistributed on Jan. 23, juniors Amisha Panjwani and Claire Pei from BASIS Independent Silicon Valley and Sabrina Zhai from Monta Vista High School expressed their opinions in an interview with JSR.
“I feel great that no one will ever feel the same pain that I felt when taking the [old] SAT, but [also] bad because we are still continuing our use of standardized testing to determine the “worth” of a student,” Pei said.
Pei further explained that although students may be more inclined to take the ACT because of its consistency and the “mystery” of the new SAT, many might continue with the SAT because it’s a more familiar test. On the other hand, Panjwani admitted that she felt stressed-out with the change because she didn’t have much time to study for the old SAT. Because the old format was ending so quickly, she felt time-crunched.
“Now, if I decided to take the new SAT again, I’d have to start preparing all over again. Furthermore, the new SAT reflects the Common Core…Most kids, especially the Class of 2017, haven’t really been introduced to the Common Core, [so] the new SAT isn’t much of an improvement,” Panjwani said. Zhai had a concurring opinion.
“I felt annoyed because [universities] require different test formats: new, old, or both. Also, [many students] were pressed for time because the [last distribution] of the old SAT was last week. People can’t retake it anymore,” Zhai said.
While many students have different opinions about the SAT change, the redesigned version is now inevitable. Start getting comfortable.