As the ACT has increased in popularity since its 1959 inception, administrators at the SAT seem determined to stay relevant and competitive for those millions of dollars at stake in today’s hyper-competitive college admissions world. Therefore, when students in 2016 view their test books for the new SAT, they will be taking a test that the College Board touts as more focused and practical compared to the SAT exams students have faced since 2005. The test will no longer require a timed essay, and will return to the familiar 1600-point scoring scale in a major overhaul.
This most recent incarnation of the oldest warhorse of U.S college tests will shift the emphasis to aspects of education that many researchers indicate matters most when it comes to college readiness and accomplishment. Some of what you read will be controversial, and I’ll help you see why. This series will describe the eight major changes that have been implemented. My goal is to help parents prepare their teens for success.
Change #1: What’s the Context?
The revamped SAT exam will concentrate on elevated vocabulary words, shifting towards those used in common vernacular rather than dusty, overly erudite words like antediluvian that no one has used in conversation since Noah’s flood. Students taking the exam will have to translate the meaning of words and phrases according to the context of the passage in which they are included. This can be challenging but important work, as it parallels use students can expect during the course of their lives from high school to college and beyond.
Assisting teens to get better at breaking down and successfully analyzing pertinent vocabulary will transform the way they get ready for this important exam. Students will no longer be able to merely use flashcards when memorizing obscure terms, only for them to forget the minute they start answering the exam. The newly designed SAT will immerse students in contextual clues gleaned in reading and be recognizably similar to the types of activities seen in the best English classrooms. Many professional educators consider this change to be for the better, with the caveat that even obscure words deserve to be embraced not obfuscated, especially by those seeking degrees in English, the arts, and humanities.