SAT Essay Becoming Optional In 2016



A Princeton psychology professor created the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in 1926. The test was taken by students of Ivy League schools to vet talented students.

Now, the SAT is receiving a major overhaul.

The College Board will make the essay portion of the admissions test optional starting in 2016 and eliminate esoteric vocabulary words, a move likely to be embraced by high school students and their parents.

Scoring will return to a maximum of 1,600 points for math and evidence-based reading and writing, and the optional essay will be scored separately, the College Board, which administers the test, said yesterday. Students will need to show critical-thinking skills by analyzing science and history texts.

One of the reasons for the adaptation was concern among educators and parents that the test scores had to do with the costly "preparation" classes that distract students from their normal class studies. Parents and students have suffered a great deal of stress over the tests and are not convinced that the results of the tests show a student's actual intellectual ability.

Some have criticized the SAT administrators for possibly changing just to "keep up" with the American College Testing (ACT) exam.

Nick Anderson of the Washington Post says that, historically, scores on the SAT were closely aligned to the household income of the student. However, the College Board is offering free online prep classes for the first time, which could even out the playing field for students from lower income families. The College Board is giving four waivers to each student who meets the income eligibility requirements. These waivers will allow them to apply to four colleges at no cost.

"It is time for an admissions assessment that makes it clear that the road to success is not last-minute tricks or cramming, but the learning students do over years," David Coleman, the College Board's president, said in a speech Wednesday in Austin. The SAT, he said, "will no longer stand apart from . . . daily studies and learning."

It is possible, since Coleman was a key figure in the creation of the Common Core State Standards that the SAT will align much more closely with the classroom learning of the nation's students.

Most college admission professionals agree that a student's high school grade average is a better predictor of college success than a standardized test score. As Tamar Lewin of the New York Times says,"More colleges have, in recent years, become ‘test optional,' allowing students to forgo the exams and submit their grades, transcripts and perhaps a graded paper".


03 8, 2014
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