Remaking the test: The SAT


College Board recently announced that in the spring of 2016, high school students would be introduced to a brand new SAT. This is long-awaited news for some students and parents who, like myself, do not find the current SAT to be an adequate test.

The SAT, as all Radford students are aware, is a test required by nearly all U.S. colleges and universities and for many years has been a supposed measure of a student’s potential to succeed in college.

Yet, how can a test that involves numerous, ambiguous vocabulary words, long forgotten, fairly inapplicable math problems, and generalized essays be truly adequate in predicting what a student can achieve in a collegiate setting?

Not to mention, the obvious gap between students that can afford expensive SAT prep courses and books that others do not have access to at all.

This has been a long-standing issue and has truly come to the forefront with College Board’s new president as of 2012, David Coleman. Coleman has been instrumental in attempting to reformulate how the SAT will be developed in the future.

Two of the most vital changes to make note of include an alteration in the point system as well as a complete overhaul of the sections of the test. Essentially, the SAT will now be changed from the 2,400-point system, divided among math, reading, and writing sections back to the former 1,600-point system. These points will be split between a reformed math section and the new reading/writing dual section.

The new and improved math section will be less driven towards geometry. Coleman has indicated that it will focus primarily on concepts such as ratios, linear equations, and other problems more equitable to real life application.

The reading and writing combination section will still include an essay, but one that is optional to students. It will no longer be an ambiguous, awkward question that is seemingly seeking for convoluted answers inclusive of large vocabulary words. It will actually require necessary, classroom skills as students read passages and answer a question based on the reading.

This way, they have something to reference and draw information from, formulating a strong and evidence-based argument. As mentioned, the vocabulary words will be less complex and intricate, but will again require students to complete more passage readings and answer questions linked to that text.

This is a great step in the right direction, aiming to find an increasingly better way of testing students for college readiness. Personally, it feels quite unfortunate that these changes were not implemented during my high school years. Some students still argue that a test is not necessary at all, no matter what changes are made. Other students, such as Jack Simpson, a junior at Radford, believe that a test is still worth using.

“I still think that an aptitude test is necessary to properly judge a student’s readiness for college. Whether or not the SAT is that test, I can’t be sure,” he said.

When asked about the recent SAT changes, Simpson expressed his opinion about the direction the test was going.

“Well, I feel that the changes to the SAT have made it more approachable from a student’s standpoint. Instead of a set structure, students now have options, which allow them to tailor the test to their own strengths,” he said.

In the end, hopefully this is one of many steps to keep building on potential SAT improvements until better methods are suggested to measure a student’s potential.