The SAT, a rite of passage for many college-bound students throughout the country, will be undergoing a redesign.
College Board President David Coleman announced the plan in an email to all College Board members recently. Although neither the exact details nor the timeframe were released, the email stated that the future assessment will hopefully mirror “the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college.”
The last redesign in 2005 included a change from a 1600 to 2400 point scale. According to Shaan Patel, president and founder of 2400 Expert, an SAT test preparation service, the proposed redesign might not bode well for the SAT.
“I think a lot of students would rather prepare for an exam that has been the same for some time, because to prepare for that exam is a lot easier,” Patel said. “There are proven strategies for it.”
Patel, like many, speculates that the announcement of a redesign could potentially be in reaction to the fact that the ACT overtook the SAT for the first time in 2012 as the most common college admissions exam. “I think the College Board saw a red flag go up,” Patel said. He also added that, in addition, “there’s a perception among students that the ACT is easier.”
Moreover, many schools like Penn require that applicants take either the SAT and two additional subject tests or the ACT, which could draw more students toward the ACT, Patel said.
Dan Spinelli — a junior at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pa. — has taken the SAT and plans on taking the ACT as well. “If I do well on the ACT, then I won’t have to take subject tests,” he said.
However, he also mentioned that “at least at my high school, a lot of people aren’t familiar with the ACT test.”
In terms of specific sections that some would want to see changed, Spinelli mentioned the math section.
“I just don’t think [the SAT math section] reflects what you learn in math in high school and what you’re going to learn math-wise in college,” Spinelli said.
Mark Paraskevas, a senior at Garden School in Jackson Heights, N.Y., echoed this sentiment, noting that “the math was completely different than what I’m learning in school.”
In addition to the content, the SAT also faces criticism over whether it actually measures students’ preparedness for college, as opposed to their socioeconomic status.
“I don’t think any standardized test really is anywhere near perfect,” Patel concluded. “People are at a disadvantage based on income.”
Spinelli, who has taken the SAT twice, mentioned that most students he knew also took the test at least twice. However, the SAT comes with a $49 registration fee, and while many students can afford to hire tutors like Patel, many also cannot.
Patel thinks, ultimately, the College Board should do more to engage students in the redesign process. “Right now I don’t think students have a voice, and they have the most to lose,” he said.