College Board announces changes to SAT college test

The College Board on Wednesday announced major changes to the SAT, the college admissions test widely accepted by colleges and universities, its first overhaul since 2005.

The new version, taken in print and by computer, will be first given in 2016 by this year’s ninth-graders, and have three sections: Evidence-based reading and writing, math, and the essay. The essay will give a separate score, while the scale will be 1,600 down from the current perfect score of 2,100.

There also won’t be a penalty for wrong answers.

The test will be three hours, and an additional 50 minutes for the optional essay.

The College Board will release the full specifications of the exam along with extensive sample items for each section in April.

“Research will guide our efforts to enhance the work students already do in their classes in grades 6–12. And that research shows that mastery of fewer, more important things matters more than superficial coverage of many,” College Board President David Coleman said in a press release.

Other changes will be “SAT words” will no longer be vocabulary that students may not have heard before and are likely not to hear again. Instead, the SAT will focus on words that students will use consistently in college and beyond.

The math section will draw from fewer topics that evidence shows most contribute to student readiness for college and career training. The exam will focus on three essential areas: problem solving and data analysis; the heart of algebra; and passport to advanced math. Students can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they will be assessed.

Students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two. Students will show the work they do throughout their classes by reading science articles and historical and social studies sources.

Each exam will include a passage drawn from the founding documents of America or the “great global conversation” they inspire, such as texts like the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The College Board also announced that it would partner with the nonprofit Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. It also said every income-eligible student who takes the SAT will receive four fee waivers to apply for college to assist low-income students.

“What this country needs is not more tests, but more opportunities,” Coleman said. “The real news today is not just the redesigned SAT, but the College Board’s renewed commitment to delivering opportunity.”