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New SAT for 2016 to regain ground in competitive college exam market

Posted: March 10, 2014 6:17 p.m.
Updated: March 10, 2014 6:17 p.m.
 

The College Board is once again redesigning the format and scoring of the SAT college-entrance exam.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the College Board is on the economic defensive and seeks to regain some of the market share it has lost to its rival, the ACT, which took the majority share last year.

Paul Weeks, an ACT Inc. vice president, told the Journal that the ACT will continue to expand its market penetration in the future, including along the coasts — a once-safe territory for the SAT.

The College Board is advertising the change as an attempt to help lessen the "achievement gap" between socioeconomic and racial groups in higher education, says the Washington Post.

The nonprofit National Center for Fair & Open Testing questions whether the last SAT overhaul, in 2005, was also prompted by fiscal issues. As market pressures mounted in the new century — including an announcement by the University of California school system that it may drop the SAT — the College Board made copacetic changes and implemented the 2,400-point scale.

Due to market incursions from a rival test, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) underwent significant changes in recent years, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Changes to the GRE were economically advantageous for Educational Testing Services, which administers the exam.

US News reports that hundreds of business schools, which had previously fled from the GRE in favor of the Graduate Management Admission Test, have "jumped on the GRE bandwagon."

Teenvogue.com has the scoop on the composition of the new SAT. It will be comprised of three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math and an optional essay. The first two sections will each be graded on an 800-point scale, for a total of 1,600, and take a combined three hours. Wrong answers will no longer be counted against students. Questions will require greater analysis and critical thinking than the current form, and obscure vocabulary is being phased out in favor of more common words.

Math will also be simplified and require greater problem solving, analysis and questions designed to test the "passport to advanced math."

Whatever the "passport" is, the Washington Post reports, the fact remains "that no single standardized test score should be used for a high-stakes decision involving young students — not for student promotion from grade to grade, high school graduation, etc. Some kids are better at taking tests than others … and historically, the scores are as reflective of the socio-economic divide in the country than they are of anything."

The Post's view has support among roughly 800 four-year colleges and universities that do not require a standardized test for undergraduate admissions. William Hiss, a researcher and former college dean, just released a study assessing the sociocultural consequences of the college-entrance assessments and a growing movement nationwide away from them. Hiss told NPR, "Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it."

 

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