New SAT delayed until 2016

Early in 2013, the College Board announced its plans to introduce a redesigned SAT that “best serves higher education and propels students toward success in college and work.” Originally slated for delivery in 2015, the new SAT is now postponed for release in spring of 2016. In an email addressed to 6,000 member schools on December 3, 2013, the College Board explained that “this change in the timing of the redesign will serve our members in higher education by providing two years to plan for the redesigned exam, familiarize themselves with changes, and meet system and publication requirements.”

In the email written by David Coleman, the president of the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT, he said: “We heard clearly from our members — including our Board of Trustees, national and regional councils, the SAT committee, attendees at our national forum, and particularly those in higher education — that you need more time, and we listened.”

Reactions to the delay have been mixed. Some were surprised by the new date because so many people were excited about the changes to the current SAT, one that has received constant criticism by teachers and organizations alike. Others, like Robert A. Schaeffer, a director at FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing the misuse of standardized tests, were not surprised by the move. In an email, Schaeffer said, “I always thought that David Coleman’s initial target of a spring 2015 rollout for the latest ‘new’ SAT was incredibly optimistic, given the College Board’s normal process for developing items.”

College Board’s first announcement for SAT changes came in early February, just as the ACT had overtaken the SAT as the standardized test taken by the most people. The SAT had also come under fire for not being more aligned with high school and college curricula as well as the Common Core State Standards, an initiative developed by Coleman before he went to College Board.

In September Coleman confirmed to the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) at a conference in Toronto that the new SAT would undergo major changes, especially the Essay section.

Coleman posed the idea of a revised Essay section, one that would possibly have students analyze a source and use evidence from that source. Coleman asked his audience, “Might such an essay prompt celebrate analytic writing?”

Besides the essay portion getting an upgrade, the SAT vocabulary and Math section may also witness some changes. SAT vocabulary words that you may study for the test and never see again will probably be eliminated from the new test. Coleman hopes to banish these words and replace them with more commonly used ones. In the Math section, there will likely be a greater focus on proportional reasoning, linear equations and linear functions, which better aligns with current high school curriculum.

So how does this affect students? These changes will impact students in the Class of 2017, so current seniors, juniors and sophomores need not worry. Also, the revised PSAT will come fall 2015, giving students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the revisions before taking the new SAT.

The College Board hopes to provide more information about the new exams this coming spring.

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