Lehigh Valley

SAT test will see major changes

SAT test will see major changes

It's a test that affects millions of students across the country, and in 2016 the SAT will be significantly different.

The last time the SATs were overhauled was in 2005.

This time around the changes will impact what's tested, how the test is scored and how students can prepare.

Sweeping changes are coming to the SAT college exam. Current high school freshman will be the first class to take the re-done standardized test.

"I think it's time some changes occurred, some changes were made," shared Southern Lehigh High School Assistant Principal Jason Lilly.

He says Pennsylvania schools have made adjustments in how subjects are taught, but the SATs have lagged behind.

"At this point we're very hopeful that the changes to the SAT are going to be more reflective of what we're asking kids to know and do right now."

The College Board test has been re-tooled, scaling back a perfect score to 1600.

The test will include three parts.

The math section will no longer allow calculators on every portion. It will focus on data analysis and real world problem solving, algebra and some more advanced math concepts.

The reading and writing sections will include questions that require students to cite evidence for their answers, and will cover reading passages from a broader range of disciplines.

There will also be an optional essay.

"My understanding at this point is colleges are still gonna have the option to require that section or not," added Lilly. "So even though it's optional, we will still have some students who are required to take that part of the test."

Another big change is eliminating the extra penalty for wrong answers, a difference Lilly thinks will be a positive one.

"Even if they got it down to two choices they're not gonna take a 50-50 chance if they know they're gonna get penalized," Lilly explained. "I think were gonna have a lot more students putting some effort in and really making a valid answer."

Starting next spring, students will be able to get free test preparation materials from Khan Academy, and those who meet income requirements will get waivers to apply to four colleges for free.

"I think that's great," said Lilly. "I think in today's digital world having something that's a free open source that everyone can use levels the playing field."

Officials say the redesigned test will take about three hours with 50 additional minutes for the essay.

More detailed information and sample test questions are expected to be released in April.

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