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Education

Lots Of Changes On New SAT

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This past weekend, the revised SAT college admissions test was administered to students across the nation and in locations throughout Charlotte. The new exam has lots of changes, including how it is scored.

The top score for the revamped SAT exam is once again 1,600. It had been 2,400 for the last decade when an essay was added to the math and verbal sections of the test. This year, the essay portion is optional, though many colleges and universities still require it. College Board officials say they want the exam to take less time to complete and reflect more of what students study in the classroom. Gone are obscure words that students learn for the test but rarely if ever use; there are fewer questions overall; multiple choice answers went from five to four possible options; and students won’t be penalized anymore for wrong answers.

All this is welcome, but it doesn’t address fundamental flaws, says Robert Schaeffer. He is with the standardized test watchdog group Fair Test.

“The cosmetic changes made to the SAT made the test more consumer-friendly but it is no better as a college predictor tool,” said Schaeffer. “It is a weak predictor of undergrad success, biased against those that don’t have a first language in English and older students, it is rooted in the white middle class experience and it’s still susceptible to high-stake test prep steroids that only the affluent can afford.”

Schaeffer’s group is pushing to make college entrance exams optional. He says nearly 900 colleges don’t require them. There are about a dozen that don’t in North Carolina, including Wake Forest, Bennett College and Guilford College. The rest are primarily online and theological seminaries.

College Board officials say the tests have value because when they are coupled with students’ grades, they provide colleges with a clearer view of a student’s potential.