On March 5, 2014 the College Board announced that the SAT format was to undergo a number of serious revisions by the year 2016.
A few major changes to the exam include the removal of “SAT words,” or vocabulary words only found in tests like the SAT, and the addition of evidence-based reading and writing, as well as content with real world context. Each exam will include text from the founding documents of America or text from the Great Global Conversation. In addition, points will no longer be deducted for wrong answers on the test.
The purpose of these adjustments is to make the SAT more applicable to what students already know.
“It’s integrating things that you’ve already learned from your classes in school,” said SAT prep teacher Nicole Myers.
The altered format of the SAT encourages students to utilize their critical thinking and reasoning skills. For example, a student may be required to analyze a table, graph or chart that accompanies a piece of reading.
They might also be required to make revisions to a section of reading.
“It’s less about what you memorize and more about the thought process,” Myers said, “so you read a text, and you have to be able to make judgements on that text.”
January of 2016 also marks the year high school juniors in Michigan will switch from taking the ACT to taking the SAT. With the date of the test rapidly approaching, the school has made an effort to give its juniors several opportunities to equip themselves with the skills necessary for their success on the exam. One of these resources is the free online SAT practice course, Khan Academy.
Partnered with the College Board, Khan Academy provides students with personalized lessons tailored to their own strengths and weaknesses on the SAT so they can better prepare for the test.
Students can even link their PSAT scores to their Khan Academy account.
“They just released the PSAT scores and they tell you what you got wrong on particular questions and what type of questions they are, so if you are low in one section […] you can boost your scores by doing the Khan Academy lessons for that,” Myers said.
In addition to Khan Academy, Gull Lake offers an SAT prep course. SAT prep instructors like Nicole Myers were offered the opportunity to attend a day long class about the new format of the SAT.
“The class taught me the different components of the new SAT, the differences between the new SAT and the old SAT, what skills are needed in order to help students succeed on the new SAT,” Myers said.
The College Board hopes these changes will lead to improvements in student performance on the test.