Question Re-Use Plagues New SAT Exam as Coleman Responds

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

The maker of the SAT has recently announced plans to streamline the math questions used on the exams, in addition to reducing the reuse of the exams in an effort to decrease instances of cheating.

David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said that the company plans to simplify the word problems included in the new SAT’s math section.  This was decided directly after a Reuters report was released stating that the math problems included in the new test are wordier than necessary.

“We are going to do everything we can to further simplify the mathematics section. Using superfluous words is superfluous,” he said, later adding, “Every extra word should go. Complex, distracting situations should go.”

Coleman went on to say that the College Board is considering reducing the number of times that SAT questions are used in multiple exams.  According to articles written previously in the year by Reuters, test preparation companies in Asia have been found to be using questions from old exams to offer their students practice.  This gives these students an advantage over the students who did not see the questions if they appear on the next exam, writes Renee Dudley for Reuters.

While it was suggested to Coleman during a conference of colleges and guidance counselors that completely stopping the reuse of questions on the exam would stop cheating on an international level, Coleman replied by stating that some reuse was necessary, but he did agree that it is currently done too much.  He said the company is looking to reduce the recycling of questions, but that doing so would be expensive and take some time to complete.

“I think first and done is exactly right … it is exactly what we should all seek. And it’s going to take substantial advances in costs,” he said. “I do seek a better future and I do want to work on redesigning item and form redevelopment such that we can get there. And we are moving towards much greater first use and much more targeted reuse.”

Meanwhile, the College Board has reported a slight dip in the average score on the SAT from last year, with the average score on a 1,600-point scale reaching just over 1,000, with a 494 in critical reading and 508 in math.  The average for the writing section, which is now optional, was found to be 482.  In all, scores were three to five points lower in each subject when compared to last year’s scores.

Because a number of changes were introduced to the exam in March, a full year of new data was not available for use.  Next year’s report will be the first to solely look at the redesigned SAT, reports Kaitlin Mulhere for Money.

In all, close to 1.36 million students took the new SAT between March and June of this year, almost 160,000 more than took the old exam in the same time frame last year.  The College Board referred to this growth as a “substantial show of support for the test’s redesign,” adding that an in-house survey showed that the majority of students who took the new test preferred it over the old one.