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More On The New SAT

by Karl Schellscheidt

Karl Schellschedit is the founder of ePrep, Inc., the finest online video-based SAT/ACT program on the planet.

If you didn’t watch David Coleman’s announcement regarding planned changes to the SAT last Wednesday, you probably read about them on the internet or in a newspaper in the days that followed.  Certainly this will be a hot topic among students, parents, college planners, and educators (teachers/tutors) alike.  And if, like me, you have a child in 9th grade or younger, the news goes beyond the professional to the personal.

As the founder of ePrep, an active private tutor, and the parent of a 9th grader, I want to share my thoughts on the topic with you.  First and foremost, while I will miss the current SAT, I look forward to the opportunities that the new SAT brings.  All of us at ePrep are eager to create new SAT study programs that incorporate everything we’ve learned about teaching students online since 2005.

In short, the new SAT will look a lot more like the current ACT, which has grown in popularity since its inception.  When the yearly number of ACT tests administered finally surpassed the yearly number of SAT tests administered for the first time last year, I think the College Board felt compelled to react … and it has.  (See below for a summary of changes.)

The College Board has also announced a partnership with Khan Academy that will offer free test-prep to the world!  While I think this is admirable, the reality is that offering free test-prep is nothing new.  The College Board and Khan Academy currently offer free prep opportunities, as do many for-profit and not-for-profit companies and organizations.

While the transparency of the new SAT may hurt the marketing campaigns of companies that claim to “know the secrets to high SAT scores,” it will do nothing to change the efforts of generations of dedicated and talented teachers and tutors who have always used SAT and ACT preparation as a means to two distinct ends: (1) to help students score higher and (2) to help students become better prepared for the academic challenges of college.

So how will ePrep continue to help you help families?

Like the rest of the teaching community, we will absorb final test details, along with sample materials, this April when such information is made public by the College Board.

ePrep’s team of career educators will then use the disclosed details and materials to create full-length practice tests, as well as supplemental study materials.  In parallel with these efforts, ePrep’s Tech Team will create new student and administrative web interfaces in a staged environment.

NOTE: the new ePrep student interface will allow students to complete practice tests in either offline (traditional, paper-pencil) mode or online (new, computer-based) mode.

By the spring of 2015, we will move ePrep’s new study programs from the staged environment to a live environment, making them available to you through your ePrep administrative accounts.

We plan to offer study programs for both the current SAT and the new SAT from the spring of 2015 to the winter of 2016.  At that point, we will phase out the current SAT study programs.

Here are just a few of the many announced changes:

  • Just like the current ACT, the new SAT will not penalize wrong answers.
  • Just like the current ACT, the essay portion of the new SAT will be optional.
  • Just like the current ACT, the new SAT will not test vocabulary directly and it will no longer assess student knowledge of esoteric “SAT” words.
  • Just like the current ACT, the new SAT reading passages will be drawn from a wide range of academic disciplines.
  • Unlike the current ACT and SAT, the new SAT math portion will include both calculator and non-calculator sections.
  • Unlike the current SAT, the new SAT is reverting back to the old 1600 scoring scale.
  • The new SAT will allow students to complete the test in the traditional, paper-pencil, environment or in a new, computer-based, environment.  The ACT Corporation has announced that it will add the computer-based-assessment option by 2015, a year before the College Board, which has scheduled the release of the new SAT for spring 2016.

Below are a few of the articles that explain the forthcoming changes:

Key Shifts of the SAT redesign
Washington Post

SAT to drop essay requirement and return to top score of 1600 in redesign of admission test
Washington Post | March 5, 2014

A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork
New York Times | March 5, 2014

The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul
New York Times | March 6, 2014

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