SAT gets makeover to mimic ACT

Adrian Grabowski, Advertising Manager

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   As a result of the ACT (American College Testing) gaining prominence over the SAT, College Board redesigned the test to even the playing field and make the SAT more accessible to all students. College Board changed the test so that the content is more in line with what is being taught in school.

   “The ACT was gaining more notoriety and more and more students are now taking it. Among Farmington students there has been an increase of over 20 percent since the year I first came to Farmington High School. The numbers are even higher nationally,” Guidance Department Chair Brooke Stanziale said.

   The SAT has shifted to resemble the ACT in an effort to increase the number of students taking it once again. The SAT has switched from ten short sections to five long sections. It now tests only pre-algebra through basic trigonometry on the math section, has made the optional essay always the last section, and changed the format of the writing section, making the test very identical to the ACT.

   “You have to keep in mind that both businesses, and so they are both looking to be the most successful business,” Stanziale said.

   Connecticut and College Board have also negotiated a contract to make the SAT a state test.

   “The state’s Board of Education’s rationale behind making the SAT the state accountability test is to reduce over testing juniors, so part of it is a response to all the controversy that surrounded the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test and its burden on students. They see it as a worthy test for both state accountability and the college application process,” Assistant Principal Lisa Kapcinski said.

   In the past there were strategies to taking the test where students learned how to narrow down their answer so they could decide whether to guess or not to avoid getting a quarter of a point off for an incorrect answer. Now points are not lost for incorrect answers so students are encouraged to give an answer to every question.

   The test used to be a reading, writing and math test, three scores out of 800 for a total scale of 2400. Now the test has an evidence-based reading and writing section and a math section for a total of 1600.

   The vocabulary on the SAT has changed as well.

   “The new SAT isn’t focused on specific vocab that is obscure. It’s more focused on vocab that is more common. It doesn’t try asking trick questions. It’s kind of taking the platform from the ACT,” junior Navva Sedigh said.

   Students have been preparing through Khan Academy, a program that has partnered up with College Board to allow students to prepare for free where as in the past students were taking special classes, attending SAT boot camps, and using tutors. Now students have greater opportunities without all the cost.

   “Students have access to Khan Academy which will help students that are motivated and I think some teachers will use it because it will support the work in their classes. The SAT is now more in line with Common Core and what they are learning in school so I think if students are successful in their classes they will be more likely to be successful on the SAT,” Stanziale said.

    The new SAT was administered to all juniors in Connecticut in March. The state did not offer the optional essay section but rather just the reading, writing and math sections. Many colleges require the essay section so students will need to take the essay on their own time.

   College Board, however, does not offer the essay by itself, which will require students to sign up for the entire test.

  Stanziale recommends students to take both the SAT and ACT.