New SAT Format Debuts, Students Pleased with Changes


The revamped SAT college entrance exam launched last weekend is getting largely positive reviews from test-takers who say the new exam is not as tricky, is more straightforward, and, for the first time, allows participants to guess on answers without fear.

The new exam has shifted its focus away from vocabulary words and more toward real-world learning and analysis. In addition, students no longer lose points for guessing, and the essay is no longer a requirement. More time will be offered for the reading and math portions because there are fewer questions overall on the new version.

However, Lee Weiss, Kaplan Test Prep's vice president of college admissions programs, advises those studying to take the exam not to skip the essay. According to Kaplan's research of college admissions officers, many of the top competitive programs do in fact make it a point to look for the essay and consider it an important part of the admissions process, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.

"Make sure you are writing a good, structured essay that answers the prompt," said Weiss. "Make sure that you are varying your word choice and your sentence structure."

In all, reports from the College Board show that over 463,000 test-takers have signed up to take the new exam in March. That number is a slight increase from last year.

Only those taking the exam to apply for college, scholarships, financial aid, or other programs that require a college test score were allowed to participate in the exam on Saturday. The College Board, the nonprofit organization who owns the SAT, said that this is because the test is new. Anyone who does not fall into one of these categories will be rescheduled to take the exam in May, which will be a different version to be released. The College Board said they did this in an attempt to lessen concerns about possible theft.

Adults who take the tests are typically those who work in the field of standardized test prep who take the exam to improve their teaching ability while at the same time demonstrating personal expertise. However, this time these individuals will have to wait in a move by the College Board to prevent cheating. According to an analysis of registrants performed after the close of registration last week, the College Board found an unusually high number of individuals enrolled who met criteria that is typically associated with a higher security risk.

This is the first revision of the exam since 2005. According to David Coleman, the head of the College Board, participants will still find reading passages, vocabulary words, and math on the new version, writes Jennifer Kerr for The Herald.

"The sum of the redesign of the test is to make it much more like the work that kids are already doing in high school," said David Coleman, president and chief executive officer of the board. It was retooled, he said, "so that all kids could feel that they had a shot."

Free practice versions of the new test and diagnostic quizzes are available to all through a partnership between the College Board and Khan Academy, and can be accessed at

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