Every few years College Board decides its time to overhaul the SAT. Yours truly escaped being the guinea pig for the most recent overhaul in 2005. I was the last class that took the 1600 scale SAT. Yes, I’m old. I took my SAT in October 2005. That was the second to last SAT on the 1600 scale. The rest of my friends, merely a few months younger, had to take their chances on the completely new 2400 scale SAT. Though we all thought we had really gotten lucky by not having to take the new exam, and they all were so upset to be the first ones to try it out, in the end it all worked out for everyone. So, 2015 is bringing us a whole new era of change for SAT.
College Board recently hired a new president, David Coleman, who decided he’d like to see some changes. One big thing Coleman is doing is shaking up the vocabulary list of the SAT. Gone will be the days of antediluvian and antiquated words that will have no use in a real college setting. Gone are words such as “membranous,” “compendious,” and “jettison.” Replacing them will be more common words like “synthesis,” “distill,” and “transform.” The English major in me feels her heartstrings being tugged at the loss of these beautiful, though arcane words. The long lost seventeen-year old SAT prep student in me is smirking.
A similar change will be seen in the math section. Mr. Coleman wants to emphasize mathematical skills that will be most useful in the real world. He wants to highlight those math subjects and skills that “matter disproportionately” such as linear equations and linear functions. Moreover, Coleman wants to focus on the explanation and application of the math, rather than just seeing the correct answer bubbled in.
Coleman’s goal is to make the SAT “an instrument that meshes with what students are learning in their classrooms.” Another area that is likely to look and feel different is the essay. Coleman’s specific pet peeve with the section is the limitless freedom that students have to make up facts on the essay. Currently, as long as the essay is well written, no points will be taken off for made up facts. Therefore, a student can still get top marks for an essay discussing Russell Brand’s contributions to the Bill of Rights and Lady Gaga’s presence at Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union written by Seth Meyers. “We should not be encouraging students to make up the facts,” Coleman says. “We should be asking them to construct an argument supported by their best evidence.”
It seems like this is all great news. Coleman is steering the SAT towards a more real-world focus so that students can take away skills and techniques from their SAT prep that will help them further into their college life.
For those of you planning on taking the exam post-2015, keep your eyes and ears open for more news to come on the changes to the SAT. For the rest of you, keep up your SAT prep, nothing’s changing till then!
antediluvian (adjective) – outdated, old-fashioned, extremely old
antiquated (adjective) – old-fashioned or outdated
membranous (adjective) – characterized by the formation of a usually abnormal membrane or membrane layer
compendious (adjective) – presenting the essential facts of something in a comprehensive but concise way
jettison (verb) – throw or drop from an aircraft or ship –(noun)- the act of jettisoning something
synthesis (noun) – combination or composition
distill (verb) – purify by vaporizing it, then condensing it by cooling the vapor
transform (verb) – make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of
arcane (adjective) – understood by few; mysterious or secret