By Smarty Guest Blogger Katie Elsasser, Director of College Counseling, Charlotte Country Day School
In addition to all the usual questions students and parents have about the college application process, this year they are also asking about the “new SAT,” which will be administered for the first time in just a few weeks, on March 5. The last major change to the SAT was in 2005 when the scoring was re-centered. The good news for parents is that I’ve found that students quickly adapted their thinking at that time, just as current students will now think of this new format as “standard.”
That said, it’s understandable that those taking the test soon are wondering what will be different and how colleges will use the assessment for admissions. Like most transitions, there are a lot of questions and not as many predictable answers. The
College Board cites on their website:
One of our biggest goals in changing the SAT was to make sure it’s highly relevant to your future success. The new test is more focused on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education. It measures:
– What you learn in high school
– What you need to succeed in college
Their website also gives suggestions about how to prepare for the test:
– Take challenging courses.
– Do your homework.
– Prepare for tests and quizzes.
– Ask and answer lots of questions.
So, essentially the College Board suggests that if you prepare well for school, you will be prepared well for the new SAT.
A Focus on Real Life
The new test includes a Reading test, a Writing and Language test, and a Math test. It also has an optional essay component that only some colleges will require. Throughout the test, understanding material in a variety of areas of study will be of help, as readings and questions will be drawn from the humanities, history, science, and math. The College Board indicates that the test will focus on “widely used words and phrases found in texts in many different subjects,” so students will be asked to “interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources.” The intent is for the questions to concentrate on real-life situations that will relate to the work asked of students in college and careers.
The Math test will be divided into three areas of math: Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Heart of Algebra, and Passport to Advanced Math (more complex equations). Again, the questions will focus on skills that are relevant in college and careers.
The Class of 2017
The students most affected by the change, certainly, are the current juniors, the graduating class of 2017. Since there is this transition, the College Counseling staff at our school this fall suggested that students take the SAT at least once by the last test date (January 2016). They will take the new SAT starting in March. The ACT, the alternative admissions testing to the SAT, has not changed, so we’ve suggested that students take one of those as well. In some ways, they have the opportunity to have the best of all worlds by having a chance to take three different tests. In the end, we are confident that colleges are ready and willing to review any and all test scores and will keep the best interests of the students at heart.
About Katie Elsasser
Katie has worked in college counseling at Country Day since 1995. She is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), Southern Association of College Admissions Counseling (SACAC), Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS), and The College Board. She serves the SACAC Board as Communications Committee co-chair. Katie has a BA in English, University of Virginia, and a master’s in Education, school counseling, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.