Tag Archives: PSAT

The scope of the SAT redesign, in terms of style, content, and philosophy, steers this once predictable exam into uncharted waters. While the College Board has released a full practice PSAT/NMSQT Practice Test in the new format and various examples of the redesigned SAT, many questions remain. To a large extent, the PSAT administered in October 2015 and the SAT first offered in March 2016 will be brand new to the world. If your teen is a sophomore this year, do you want him or her to be among the first to sit for the new test? Probably not. Early indications suggest that the new SAT will be more challenging in many ways than the current SAT or ACT, which may be sufficient reason to avoid it. Of even greater concern are the entirely new question types and content. The great strength of the College Board has historically been the…

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Most adults today can remember an SAT that had no written essay portion, since that section wasn’t added until March 2005. One wonders if the folks at the College Board wish they could return to that carefree era, back when the SAT dominated the college admissions landscape and before their rivals in Iowa City seemed to outflank them at every turn. Yet, given the chance to minimize the role of a writing sample or excise from the SAT entirely, the College Board instead appears to be doubling down on the essay. To date, the essays on both the SAT and ACT have been exercises in persuasive writing. The redesigned SAT moves into uncharted territory by requiring students to produce a cogent and clear written analysis, based on both critical reasoning and evidence drawn from the source, of a provided text. No more will students be asked to manufacture evidence on…

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For those in the know, SAT Math has never really been about the math. Of course, the SAT has always tested math concepts ranging from basic arithmetic to higher level algebra and arithmetic. But the math section of the SAT really challenges problem solving ability, creativity, and logic. Thus, students with excellent grades in math classes at school often earn merely average SAT Math scores because they lack the conceptual understanding to solve tricky test problems. The redesigned SAT maintains that commitment to prioritizing math manipulation over calculation, but also shuffles the content portfolio to emphasize linear equations and trigonometry at the expense of basic geometry. The College Board claims the redesigned SAT will require a stronger command of fewer, more important topics, but the list of topics across four functional areas tested still seems pretty deep: Heart of Algebra (33%) Linear equations, inequalities, and systems; linear functions; graphing equations…

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Testing grammar and writing has caused the College Board all kinds of headaches over the last decade. Everything seemed peachy back when colleges looked at the SAT II Writing Test as proof of English language proficiency. But once the College Board essentially stapled that test to the SAT in 2005, in large part to appease those selfsame colleges, things went south. Not only did the last SAT revision open the door for the rise of the ACT, but even the SAT Subject Tests have lost their luster. Nonetheless, the assessment of grammar adds value to a college entrance exam. Rather than give up on testing this content, the College Board is learning from the mistakes of the past by lashing this section more tightly to the exam as a whole. No longer can colleges marginalize the grammar portion of the SAT when it is part of the larger Evidence-Based Reading…

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SAT Reading, known at one time or another as Critical Reading or just plain Verbal, has transformed dramatically over the decades. Who could forget such classic question types as Analogies or Antonyms? But the new SAT will continue the College Board’s attenuated move from testing vocabulary to testing passage-based reading. Sentence Completions, the last vocabulary intensive question type, are being relegated to the dustbin of flashcard history. With their removal, the SAT Reading Test will focus entirely on the assessment of specific comprehension and reasoning skills in relation to appropriately challenging passages across a range of content areas: Emphasis on words in context Emphasis on command of evidence Inclusion of informational graphics Specified range of text complexity Numbers 1 and 2 on this list are nothing new, but this redesigned SAT will be testing these concepts more rigorously. Number 4 won’t matter much to students but may be of interest…

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The SAT has always stood out as the classic standardized test, in which a population of test takers would earn raw scores that would then be scaled according to the standard distribution in a classic bell curve. This aspect of the SAT is not changing. In fact, the new test brings everyone back to that familiar 1600 scale: 200-800 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing plus 200-800 for Mathematics. Students will also receive 2-8, as opposed to the current 2-12, for each of three traits for Essay, the results of which will be reported separately. The big change is the shift away from the wrong answer penalty, often erroneously dubbed the guessing penalty. The College Board is taking another page from the ACT handbook in implementing “rights-only scoring,” in which testers earn a point for each correct answer but lose nothing for incorrect answers. This is a radical departure for an…

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