Get To Know The New SAT
Get To Know The New SATJim Montoya, Vice President for Higher Education and International at the College Board
For many students, taking the SAT® is a rite of passage. It has been an important part of the college admission process for millions of students since its introduction in 1926, and it remains an important part of that process today. As the former head of undergraduate admission at Stanford University, Occidental College, and Vassar College, I’ve seen firsthand how SAT scores and high school grades combine to become a strong predictor of first-year college success. And soon, the SAT will have an even stronger connection to the work that students are doing in the classroom.
Beginning next spring, students who take the SAT will see a new version of the test. Before redesigning the test, the College Board looked at the research that shows what skills and knowledge students need to know to be ready for college and career. We also listened to feedback from students, parents, teachers, and college and university professionals. The result is a test that is more useful, focused, and clear than ever.
Some of the changes that students taking the test in March 2016 and anytime thereafter should be aware of include:
- Content that is better aligned to what they’re already learning in class. Now there’s a clearer connection between what students are learning in school and the skills and knowledge we’re assessing on the SAT.
- A focus on the areas of math that research has shown to be most important for college success. For example, proportions and algebraic linear equations will be on the test; logic puzzles that have little connection to the math students are learning in class will not.
- A focus on vocabulary that students are likely to use again in college and career. Two words students won’t see on the test: “prevaricator” and “sagacious.” They may see a word like “synthesis,” however, which is used often in the contexts of chemistry, philosophy, biology, and psychiatry.
- No penalty for guessing. Students will earn points for the questions they get right — but won’t have points subtracted if they choose the wrong answer. There are also fewer answer options for multiple-choice questions — four, instead of five — so students making an educated guess are more likely to choose the correct answer.
The College Board wants every student to have an equal opportunity to practice for the redesigned SAT, regardless of their financial situation. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Khan Academy®, a leader in online education, to provide all students with high-quality, personalized SAT practice absolutely free. This partnership will level the playing field by providing official SAT study tools to all students who want them.
Official SAT Practice — which launched in early June — is an interactive experience that identifies the areas individual students need to work on based on how they answer short quizzes and official SAT sample questions. It then tailors a study plan for each student and provides instant feedback so students can know how they’re doing and be proud of the progress they’re making. Of course, the best way to practice for the new SAT is to take challenging courses in high school and work hard in those courses. Official SAT Practice is intended to reinforce the great work already being done in class.
Summer is a time to relax, read for pleasure, and recharge. It’s also a great time for students to explore Official SAT Practice. We look forward to seeing these students — and all students who follow — benefit from the changes we’ve made to the SAT and succeed in college, career, and beyond.
POST WRITTEN BYJim Montoya
Jim is vice president for higher education and international at the College Board.