downloadOn January 15, I attended a presentation by Alan Bernstein, Senior District Director, K12 Services, at the College Board. The presentation focused on the release of redesigned SAT in spring 2016. Given what I learned, we, as educators, need to begin preparing for these transitions right away. Our current tenth graders will have a very different experience on the SAT and we owe it to them to prepare. Luckily, many of the transitions align to shifts we’ve already made with the Common Core.

First, a note on organization. There will be 3 sections in the new SAT – only two are mandatory. The essay portion will be optional. If students choose to take the essay, they must take the whole exam. They will not able to just sit for the essay. Below is a chart that outlines details about the three sections.

Section Evidence Based Reading and Writing Math Essay – optional. Additional cost
Points 200-800 points 200-800 points Totally separate score.
Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Mandatory? YES YES NO
Details This section will include analysis in science and social studies. These questions will be teased out and reported as subscores. Subscores will be reported for algebra, advanced mathematics (Algebra II and quadratic equations), and statistical literacy. Colleges will be required to tell students whether or not they require the essay. Fair bet that competitive colleges will require. We just don’t know yet.

 So, what are these changes and what do they mean for student instruction? Check them out below.

Eight key changes on the Redesigned SAT

  1. Relevant words in context: engage in close reading and interpret meaning based on context – no more straight memorization of Tier III vocab and no more extracted sentences where students choose the best words. Those questions doesn’t get to literacy.
  2. Command of evidence: when responding to “text,” traditional texts will be “cross-fertilized” with graphs, charts, etc… so questions will be research tasks where students have to integrate information through both reading passages and informational graphics. No more questions about “main idea.”
  3. Problems grounded in real world context: Math section will feature multistep applications to solve problems in science, social studies, career scenarios, and real-life contexts.
  4. Analysis in Science and Social Studies: Students will apply reading and math skills to answer questions in science, history, and social studies contexts.
  5. Essay Analyzing a Source: The (optional) essay will more closely mirror college writing assignments. No more “reflective” essay. The prompt will be text-based and will require close reading, careful analysis, and clear writing. Will be focused on reading arguments and analyzing an author’s work and how she/he constructs the argument.
  6. Focus on math that matters: 90% of the math section will focus on three key areas: heart of algebra (Algebra I Common Core), advanced mathematics (Algebra II Common Core and quadratic equations), and statistical and quantitative literacy. Geometry will only account for 10% of the test, as research suggests geometry is not an indicator of college readiness.
  7. Founding documents and global conversation: Every version of the SAT, there will be a founding document and a text from the ongoing Great Global Conversation about freedom, justice, and human dignity. No prior knowledge of the text will be required.
  8. No penalty for wrong answers or unanswered items (called formula based scoring). Points for correct answers only.

As a teacher, administrator or counselor, learn more about these shifts and the test specifications for the new SAT here. This preparation will ensure that our students are prepared for the redesigned test, college, and their chosen careers.

The Redesigned is SAT coming. Be prepared.

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