The SAT is getting a makeover. In Spring 2016, students will take an SAT designed to focus on lessons learned in school, such as analysis and applied logic. Among the eight key changes: defining words in context, demonstrating a command of evidence, writing an essay that analyzes a source, and focusing on math that “matters most” – all grounded in real-world contexts.
The College Board, the organization that runs the SAT, says that the overhaul is designed to provide students with the opportunity to “showcase the skills that matter most in college.” The new SAT, they hope, will be more “focused, useful, open and clear.”
Not everyone is convinced.
In an article in Slate, “Yes, IQ Really Matters,” David Z. Hambrick and Christopher Chabris argue that the SAT already does a nice job predicting collegiate achievement. The authors also poke holes in the argument that the SAT only works for those who can afford expensive test prep courses, citing research that test-prep courses only have a small effect on SAT scores.
Critics of the new test have said that the new SAT is simply a ploy for relevance, that the SAT should be scrapped altogether and replaced with a simple evaluation of high school records and achievements.
However, some educators consider the new SAT a positive move toward identifying real-world skills and the potential for achievement. “This is a clear message that good hard work is going to pay off and achievement is going to pay off,” says Harvard University Dean of Admissions, William R. Fitzsimmons.
The shift toward testing what a student should have learned in school may put pressure on students to ensure that they’re actively engaged throughout their education, not just during test-taking season. This will necessitate an ongoing commitment from parents and other members of the community to help students keep their eyes on the prize.