You heard it here first. Josh Wolford reported last week that the College Board, the private nonprofit who administers the standardized test that many colleges and universities factor into admissions, would be making some changes to the popular Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).
Many a college student spent weeks of high school aiming and fine-tuning to achieve that perfect 1600 on the SAT, hoping for a free ride through college. The SAT was changed in 2005 to reflect a "these go to eleven" top score of 2400. And that is one of the things that are in line to be changed back.
But one of the most significant developments was the decision to stop penalizing test-takers for wrong answers. That, along with the moves to make essay questions optional, and to soften the classic focus on obscure vocabulary, can make a big difference in the score some students end up with.
These changes lead to a few questions about why all this was done, but also, how does this change test prep?
Politico reports that some of the impetus behind the changes was to thwart the rise of for-profit test prep industries around a test that is designed and administered by a nonprofit entity. And to further underscore the determination of the College Board to make test prep accessible to everyone, the group is partnering with popular online learning site Khan Academy to provide free test prep.
In an email sent to all Academy members, Khan Academy Content Lead Elizabeth Slavitt announced:
Exciting news: we’re partnering with the College Board so that all students who want to go to college can prepare for the SAT at their own pace, at no cost.
The College Board just announced that they’re redesigning the SAT for 2016, and we’re partnering with them to make free, world-class prep materials.
By spring 2015, students will have access to state-of-the-art, interactive learning tools that give them deep practice and help diagnose their gaps. All of this will be created through a close collaboration with the College Board specifically for the redesigned SAT. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, students taking the SAT in 2014/15 can start practicing today with hundreds of previously unreleased Math, Reading, and Writing questions from real SATs and more than 200 videos that show step-by-step solutions to each question.
Politico goes on to point out that the big test prep firms are downplaying the changes to the test, and the significance of free test prep now being available. Groups like Kaplan claim that their prep business will still be ever viable, and likens the need for prep firms to coaches in athletics.
But Princeton Review, another such firm, admits that the College Board’s announcement means “the industry is going to undergo some upheaval.” Of course, they stress that their prep philosophy positions them as better equipped to roll with these changes than their competitors.
The announcement about these changes seems to come in response to studies that show that 800 colleges and universities have made he SAT and ACT tests optional for admissions now, and that students who enter college without them do just as well as those who took them.
Image via The College Board, Facebook