Changes to the SAT… Much Ado About Nothing

change ahead resized 600The College Board made headlines yesterday by announcing major changes to the SAT. Who cares? For the most part, preparation for the test will remain the same. Students will still need to focus on building core math, reading, and writing skills. Students will still need to put in a significant amount of time and practice to score their best since repetition and familiarity with the test questions will remain the key. The College Board is making these changes to become more like the ACT because the ACT has been eating the SAT’s lunch for years now. More students take the ACT every year than the SAT. That news comes as a shock in places like New York and California where the SAT was always the predominant test. The College Board is trying to stop the bleeding and keep the SAT relevant. 

Some of the changes:

  • No more penalties for guessing wrong on the SAT. Just like the ACT.
  • The SAT essay will now be optional. Just like the ACT.
  • Less focus on obscure vocabulary. Just like the ACT.
  • Reading passage focused on science. Just like the ACT.

So what should high school students, their parents, and their schools do differently in response to the headlines made yesterday?

Nothing should change as far as how students, parents, and schools approach these tests. Here are just a few of the things that should stay the same:

  • Students should take both a timed, practice ACT and SAT and have it scored to determine if either test seems to be a better fit. 30% of students will score significantly better on one test vs. the other.
  • Students should take advantage of the ACT Test Information Release Service and the College Board’s Question and Answer Service to save them time and money as far as test preparation goes. Not familiar with these services? Click here.
  • Students should focus on doing well in their high school classes. Students should not start preparing specifically for the ACT and SAT until the summer before junior year. When parents ask what students can do before then, the answer has been the same since forever: work harder in school, read more, write more, improve your vocabulary.
Tom Ehlers is the President and Founder of Method Test Prep. Tom graduated from Princeton University and completed Princeton’s Teacher Preparation Program. He has spent the last 15 years developing effective teaching methods and learning techniques that have helped thousands of students significantly raise their college admissions test scores.  He has worked as an educational consultant with school districts across the country and advises them on ways to improve the districts’ college admission test scores.

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