Like it or not, new SATs here to stay
High school students taking their SAT college entrance exams this weekend will be sitting down to a whole new testing experience.
These students will be the first to take the revamped Scholastic Achievement Test that boasts the introduction of an essay section, a replacement of often-dreaded analogies with grammar questions, and a boost in the skill level expected for the math section.
Some local school officials this week applauded the changes for providing a more accurate assessment of their students’ abilities.
“It comes closer to measuring the students’ knowledge,” said Carl Koring, a counselor at Bear River High School.
Nevada County resident Dawn Stillman, who tutors students to prepare for the verbal section of the test, agrees, saying, “It is a little more well-rounded.”
Stillman has been busy prepping students for what is probably the most significant change to the test – the required writing component. She likes the addition to a test that previously was broken into math and reading sections.
“Being able to convey their ideas on paper is important. Writing is a life skill,” she said.
Because of the changes, it seemed to Koring that the test is moving closer to the form of the ACT, another test levied on high school students preparing for college.
The ACT includes four parts – English, math, reading, and science. It has an optional essay section, and this component is required by some private schools and the entire University of California system.
The new SAT will give students another test option that will be accepted at these schools, Koring said.
The test still reflects the knowledge students are supposed to be taught in school, making the preparation for the changeover relatively easy. While there are no formal classes devoted to college entrance exam preparation at Bear River, Koring said English teachers have a lot of in-class essays to get students ready, and the math questions reflect higher-level math that students are taking.
Do the changes make the SAT harder? It depends on how you look at it, educators say.
“Many students believe the new tests will be harder. It depends on the strength of student. It could showcase (some students’) writing skills,” said Krista Plaisted, the state director of SAT and ACT programs for Kaplan, a nationwide test preperation company.
Others say the changes are welcomed by students.
“I think they really like it because they really hated the analogy section,” Stillman said.
the new look
Sample questions for the new SAT:
• Essay question: Are people motivated to achieve by personal satisfaction rather than by money or fame? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
• Math question: Of the 6 courses offered by the music department at her college, Kay must choose exactly 2 of them. How many different combinations of 2 courses are possible for Kay if there are no restrictions on which 2 courses she can choose?
For more information or to take a practice test, visit http://www.collegeboard.com on the Web.
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