Do the Changes to the SAT Matter?

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The first, revised draft of the anxiety-inducing SAT, an exam requisite for the vast majority of college admission programs, was released this month. It featured some major changes that appear to make the exam a little bit easier. Experts, however, claim that the redesign won’t do much to reduce high schoolers stress.

Beginning in 2016, the SAT’s multiple choice questions will only have four possible choices rather than the current amount of five, reading passages will include more nonfiction than fiction, and the essay will be optional amongst several other changes. Additionally, the material covered on the SAT will focus more on what’s being taught in classrooms rather than relying on logic questions designed to test student’s problem solving skills. This makes it quite similar to the current iteration of the ACT, another college prep exam.

However, it’s not the actual test taking process that stresses high schoolers out–it’s the results. While these changes might seem beneficial, they don’t make the test any less stressful because the SAT’s scores will continue to carry just as much weight as they did before the redesign. Even if the test is “easier,” high schoolers are still going to get anxiety over how well or how poorly they did.

Of course, the purpose of these redesigns may not necessarily be to make the SAT easier or less stressful, but more fair. According College Board President David Coleman, “It is time for an admissions assessment that makes it clear that the road to success is not last-minute tricks or cramming but the learning students do over years each day.”

Basically, it’s a test that will measure classroom study and not test prep, but then again, why not use students’ GPAs? Even though it’s been redesigned, many critics are still claiming that such an exam is fundamentally flawed.

Bill Hiss, a retired dean of admissions at Bates College, says, “To think you’re going to design any single standardized test that will capture human promise for higher education is simply a trip up a blind alley.”

Despite what all the critics say of the SAT and its changes, one thing remains clear: the exam will continue to be nerve-wracking part of the college application process.

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