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When high school juniors sit down to take the SAT I three years from now, they'll have to do a lot more than fill in bubbles labeled 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D,' with number two pencils.

Not only will they grapple with the standard critical reading passages and mathematic problems that the 76-year-old test boasts, but students will have to write an essay as well.

And to top it off, they should expect to be hunched over their answer booklets for an additional 30 minutes, as the test's length will also be increasing.

On June 27, the College Board unanimously voted upon these changes -- which will be officially enacted in the spring of 2005 -- to bring a new face to the SAT I for future generations.

College Board members expect that these revisions will better reflect student performance in college.

"The current SAT I is the most rigorously and well-researched test in the world, and the new SAT I will only improve the test's current strengths by placing the highest possible emphasis on the most important college success skills -- reading and mathematics, and, now, writing," College Board President Gaston Caperton said in a press release.

Of course, introducing new parts to the test -- including a separate writing section -- also means phasing out dated parts of the SAT.

According to the College Board, the analogies segment of the verbal section will no longer haunt future generations of high-school students. In fact, what is now known as the SAT Verbal Exam will be renamed the SAT Critical Reading Exam, since it will be solely comprised of critical reading passages and follow-up questions.

Additional changes include cutting down the number of quantitative comparisons in the Math Exam to make room for more challenging questions involving the application of Algebra II and trigonometry.

"What's being added to the test is of such value that it's more than a fair trade off," College Board Public Affairs Director Donald Jacob said. "You remove those items that you believe to be less relevant in today's education, so we've had to eliminate things that people are less familiar with."

Nevertheless, the magnitude of these additions has transformed the SAT's scoring system. As of 2005, students who have aced the test will boast perfect scores of 2400 -- 800 points up from the current pinnacle of 1600.

Although these changes are revolutionary in nature, the College Board's announcement to revise and revamp the SAT I comes as no surprise to many people.

Over the past few years, a nation-wide debate over the fairness of standardized testing has surfaced in the realm of higher education.

In 2001, for example, University of California System President Richard Atkinson's proposal to nix the SAT I from UC admissions requirements sparked concerns over whether the test was an accurate predictor of college performance.

But while the College Board claims that it has been considering modifying the test for several years, many say that the potential loss of the UC system -- its biggest customer -- prompted them to expedite these changes.

"There is no question that President Atkinson's position acted like lighter fluid on barbeque," Vice President for Learning and Assessment at Kaplan Inc. Seppy Basili said. "It caused the College Board to move more quickly, although they were already moving in this direction."

Now the College Board hopes that these revisions -- especially the addition of a writing section -- will align the SAT I even more closely to current high school curricula across the country.

"Research has shown that the addition of a writing test provides increased validity in predicting college success, but, more importantly, it sends a loud and clear message that strong writing is essential to success in college and beyond," College Board Trustees Chair and University of Maryland at College Park Vice President Linda Clement said in a press release.

According to Jacob, the changing face of the SAT I has garnered positive reactions from a wide scope of people.

"The feedback has been extremely positive -- we're getting e-mails in here from young people all over the world," Jacob said. "We had no idea of the global reach of the test, and the reaction from parents is that it's a very positive step."

However, some feel as though it will take time to see the impact that these revisions will have.

"It's too early for us to tell exactly how we will make use of the new scores, and we have time to deliberate on that subject," Penn Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson said.

National Association for College Admission Counseling Executive Director Joyce Smith agreed, noting the importance of seeing how both high schools and colleges respond to the changes in the test.

"It's really going to come down to how schools respond in terms of preparing students or not, and how colleges use the results -- those are the two big unknowns," she said.

Regardless, until the revised SAT I is administered to high schoolers in three years, the only thing that students, teachers and admissions officials can do is hope for the best.

"I applaud the College Board for attempting to make the test more relevant to the curriculum in high schools," Stetson said. "Obviously, they feel they have taken a step in that direction."

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