Fixing the SAT

The College Board’s planned changes to revamp its SAT I Test will increase the test’s relevance and ability to adequately represent students’ abilities. This new SAT will impact students all over the world, and change what the admissions process involves for prospective Ephs.

Many of the changes to the test redirect the SAT’s focus from memorization and test-taking strategy to data analysis and problem solving. Wrong answers will no longer be penalized, and students will now be expected to cite evidence in many reading and writing questions. Reading comprehension sections will draw from varied source material. The Record commends the College Board for these changes, as they eliminate some of the advantages of taking SAT preparatory courses. We believe that this makes the test more representative of student ability, and reduces some of the inequality faced by students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The College Board has made further efforts to make the test more accessible. They have paired with Khan Academy to provide study materials that are free and available online. While we commend them for the increased accessibility of these materials, we recognize that the problem is still not fully solved: the videos remain restricted to those with immediate access to computers and Internet connections.

The new SAT will also include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents of America, such as the Federalist Papers or the Declaration of Independence. We feel that this contradicts many of the goals of this new SAT. First, while we recognize that international students looking to study in America should have some awareness of American history and culture, we feel that the inclusion of these documents in the test counteracts the goal of leveling the test-taking field among socioeconomic and cultural strata: it disadvantages the many international test-takers that are not as steeped in American culture. Second, this change contradicts the push toward pure reading comprehension, as many students will have background knowledge of these documents, giving those in more well-endowed schools an advantage.

The essay portion of the test will also be optional. We agree with the College Board that one essay is not indicative of students’ writing abilities and endorse this change. Furthermore, this allows colleges to decide whether they want to consider the SAT essay in the admissions process.

Overall, we commend the College Board for recognizing many weaknesses of the previous version of the SAT I Test and for working to address these issues. We agree with many of the College Board’s changes that indicate an evident push for scores that more accurately represent students’ academic skills and potential. We feel these changes could increase the relevance of the SAT and eventually reduce bias in college admissions.

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