The New and Improved SAT???

image Time is almost up!
The current version of the SAT will only be offered until January of 2016. To date, the new format raises more questions than answers and, although Educational Testing Services (ETS) claims that the new test is improved, the only sure thing is uncertainty. As confusion abounds, parents and students need guidance now more than ever.

One of the rmost intriguing aspects of the new SAT is the elimination of the guessing penalty. This sounds appealing but, just like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the ruse poses a hidden cost that many will unwittingly pay. Altruism has never been the hallmark of the SAT. It is a supposed non-profit, monster that has frightened students for decades and it consumes dollars as voraciously as self-esteem. Nevertheless, it’s soft underbelly has been exposed. The multi-million dollar behemoth has been hemorrhaging clients to the ACT steadily for years. In fact, the redesign appears to be a desperate attempt to salvage its preeminence over the ACT. Unfortunately, it will be at the expense of college hopefuls worldwide and the sacrificial lamb will likely be the Class of 2017.

If you think this is largely hyperbole, then consider what my students have unanimously reported; the new test is much harder! The “experimental” sections of the most recent PSAT/SAT exams have previewed the upcoming version. It is said to be more reflective of common core instruction and assessment. It’s touted as being more equitable and less predictable so as to mitigate the advantage of test prep. After all, it has been criticized that, “the industry encourages students to evaluate a seemingly complex problem and overcome it with mental math.” When did using logical, sound reasoning become something to be discouraged? I think most employers have a different perspective.

Here’s what we know; the new exam must demonstrate it’s continued reliability as a valid evaluation tool or it will become obsolete. It will remain a challenging test that separates students by percentiles. There will still be a need for prep otherwise the Kahn Accademy wouldn’t have partnered with ETS. Regardless, the tests offered in the spring of 2016 will be largely untried and costly. Is it a price you are willing to pay?

Finally, if hindsight is 20/20, then what is the value of foresight? I’ve taught my students for years, ” If you rely on the SAT to give you the answers to the questions, you are setting yourself up for a trap.” Experts and countless students seem to be in agreement despite the Collage Board’s effots to allay fears and deflect criticism. Here is the prevailing consensus; TAKE THE SAT NOW!

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“Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”