By Carly Stone and Sabina Hodzic
Studying for the SATs is going to get a lot easier for those taking it in 2016 or later. The committee has decided to change the test that is known to largely affect college admissions almost completely. Among the changes are an optional essay instead of a mandatory writing section, less obscure vocabulary, no penalty for wrong answers, and a 1600 point scale rather than 2400.
The optional writing portion will take away a graded part of the test, lowering the point scale 800 points. SAT preparation classes will have to cut writing preparation from their plans but in return, gain time to focus on other aspects. The vocabulary will be more general, lessening the load of words test takers will have to commit to memory. Taking away the penalty for wrong answers may be the largest change of the test. Students were taught to ignore any questions they did not know the answer to. Now they will have the freedom to guess and not get points taken away. As of right now the SAT deducts a quarter of a point for every wrong answer.
Courtney Romeiser, an English teacher who teaches a SAT prep course at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, feels the changes have the right idea but is withholding her final judgment on the SAT changes until they are put into action in two years. Regardless of the change, she still thinks the test has no connection with a student’s success in college. None of the changes have been seen since they will occur in the spring of 2016, but her thoughts are that the SAT is trying to correspond with the changes in education. As the skills to be successful in the 21 century change, so does the SAT material. Currently, “it is a combination of career and college successfulness,” said Romeiser.
J-DHS prep courses gather their material from Kaplan Test Prep. The company shares topics with the prep course teachers so that they can help the students learn how to tackle the standardized test. Because of removal of the essay, the prep course will have to change the material it teaches. Ms. Romeiser will accommodate the changes advised by Kaplan,and incorporate some of her own knowledge from experiences.
J-DHS guidance counselor Denise Becher believes the SAT is going back to its original version which lacked the essay and was graded on a 1600 point scale. Becher helps J-DHS students with the college process and knows that these changes are not too important. According to Becher, most colleges never thought of the SAT as a 2400 point test, but 1600. Becher believes the scores and admissions should not change too drastically because it is going back to it’s original version.
Those who have already taken it agree that the changes should be very beneficial. Juniors Jake Parker and Jake Eich, who have already taken the SAT, agreed that the most challenging part of the test was the essay. “For my test, we had to write about a random topic that forced you to pull evidence from real life events,” said Eich. “I am jealous they have the option to write because I really struggled in that area,” said Parker.