The what, when and why of the new SAT

Brynn Feighery, Assistant Opinions Editor

Students do not typically look forward to the SAT. Luckily for those students, the SATs are soon adopting changes that may decrease students’ anxiety about taking this test on their path to finding a college. One of the biggest changes is the “rights-only” scoring. Previously, students were penalized for a wrong answer. When the new test is administered, students will be encouraged to select the best answer select for each problem. This provides students with room for improving their scores.

The new SAT will now be three sections: reading and writing, math and the essay. The individual sections will remain on the scale from 200-800, and the overall test will be on a scale from 400-1600 due to the now optional essay. The essay will be evaluated on a separate scale.

The next major change is the addition of the optional essay and the topic of the essay. Though the essay is technically optional, some colleges and school districts will continue to require students to write it.

“I have mixed viewpoints about the essay. I think it is good for students who may not have strong writing skills, but at the same time, students will have more pressure to do well on the rest of the test” sophomore Megan Dineen said.

The focus of the essay has also shifted. The prompt will remain the same, and the only change will be the passage. Students will now be asked to read a passage and analyze how the author built up his argument. This shift is aimed to mirror college-style writing.

The College Board says it is trying to make the test more relevant to high school curriculum. It is the College Board’s goal to support college success for more students, as the majority of students that are taking the SAT are not prepared for college. To prepare for the SAT, students are encouraged to take challenging classes to help both on the test and in college.

The first of the new tests will be administered in the spring of 2016. Current juniors are taking the current version of the SAT.

“I guess it’s a little unfair that sophomores can take both tests because juniors won’t get the same advantage,” junior David Balcells said, “but if you are going to make a change, it has to be applied sometime.”

Sophomores in the class of 2017 have the option to take both the new and old versions of the SAT.