THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Education Supplement June 2014
The Revamped SAT: AMuch-Needed Overhaul or Cosmetic Surgery?
BY FRANCESCA KE L LY
f you’re a student, a parent or even a grandparent, most likely
you’ve encountered the SAT. For much of its century-long
existence, this multiple-choice test that aims to assess academic
readiness for higher education has been one of the keys to col-
While a student’s high school grade-point average is still the
most important part of the college application, colleges also use
SAT results in evaluating applicants.
Once called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic
Assessment Test, it’s now simply the SAT™. For decades a two-
part (Reading and Mathematics) test, the SAT incorporated a
mandatory Writing section in 2005.
Recently, the College Board, the nonprofit corporation that
oversees the SAT, announced that the biggest revamp in its his-
tory will be implemented in the spring of 2016. The SAT will reflect
more of what is actually being learned in America’s schools,
and the College Board will make test preparation accessible to
students of all income levels.
Here are the details:
The entire process will be more transparent. The College
Board is moving away from using obscure texts, tricky questions
and unfamiliar vocabulary.
The writing portion will become optional, and scoring will
return to its pre-2005 potential total of 1,600 rather than 2,400.
Each of the two required sections, Evidence-Based Reading
and Writing, and Math, will offer the traditional score range of
200-800. The optional essay score will be added separately. The
optional essay will require more text-based analysis than in the
Vocabulary words will be more familiar, less arcane. The
College Board stresses that the test will emphasize a student’s
interpretation of the meaning of the word in context.
America’s important founding documents and meaningful
texts will be used as a part of every SAT exam.
The Mathematics section will be more focused, drawing
from fewer math sub-genres. The College Board has renamed the
three subsections of the Math component “Problem-Solving and
Data Analysis,”“The Heart of Algebra” and “Passport to Advanced
Math.” The focus will be on real-life math skills such as calculating
percentages and ratios, along with a few representative geometry
and trigonometry questions.
Wrong answers will no longer be penalized.
Free SAT test preparation will be available immediately
through a joint venture with the Khan Academy.
Francesca Kelly, a Foreign Service spouse, is a writer, university
counselor and college essay tutor. She writes frequently on educa-
tion issues and is a former editor of AFSANews. To see the complete
article, including a resources list, go towww.afsa.org/education.