Big changes are coming to the SAT in spring 2016.
The longstanding penalty for guessing wrong will disappear, just like obscure vocabulary words. The essay will be optional. And the scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale. In addition to the test changes, a new program will give low-income students fee waivers to allow them to apply to four colleges at no charge.
The new exam will be introduced in spring 2016.
Here are the changes, as presented by the New York Times:
- Instead of arcane “SAT words” (“depreciatory,” “membranous”), the vocabulary definitions on the new exam will be those of words commonly used in college courses, such as “synthesis” and “empirical.”
- The essay, required since 2005, will become optional. Those who choose to write an essay will be asked to read a passage and analyze the ways its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.
- The guessing penalty, in which points are deducted for incorrect answers, will be eliminated.
- The overall scoring will return to the old 1,600-point scale, based on a top score of 800 in reading and math. The essay will have a separate score.
- Math questions will focus on three areas: linear equations; complex equations or functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators will be permitted on only part of the math section.
- Every exam will include, in the reading and writing section, source documents from a broad range of disciplines, including science and social studies, and on some questions, students will be asked to select the quotation from the text that supports the answer they have chosen.
- Every exam will include a reading passage either from one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
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