Out with the New SAT, In with the Old?


NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - Standardized testing has been on most juniors’ minds this year, but recent changes to the SAT pose an important question: new or old? The old test will still be available for Dec. 5, 2015 and Jan. 23, 2016 exams but then the new test will replace it.

Starting March 5, 2016, CollegeBoard will begin administering the redesigned SAT. The new test will have two sections, rather than three: Math and Evidence-Based Reading/Writing. The math section will be inclusive to more advanced courses, such as: trigonometry, calculus and algebra II. The writing portion will continue to be scored similarly to an AP essay, but will demand more analysis and less opinion. 

The junior class at West Essex High School has taken two of the redesigned practice SATs and come face to face with its complexity.

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“I didn’t know any of the math,” said junior Italia Messina.

“I think it’s unfair for people who aren’t even done with Algebra II,” junior Deirdre Brady said.

Another change to the test is that the new SAT no longer offers the option to “super score” multiple test scores, like the old test did, which limits students’ scores being sent to colleges.

Many juniors at WEHS are stressing over the fast-approaching redesigned SAT and are choosing to only take the ACT, an additional standardized test, or to simply stick with the old SAT.

“I don’t want to have to study for two different tests,” said junior Sophie Moyer who is just taking the ACT. “I’d rather study hard to excel on one.”

Moyer also said that the time crunch between now and the first administration of the new SAT also affected her choice.

An Oct. 28, New York Times article titled, “Everything You Need to Know About  the New SAT,” by Eric Hoover, went into depth about what is to be expected on the new test. Aside from there now being only two sections, Hoover also said that it will be scored on a 200-to-800 scale. And, without a penalty for guessing, he said “the odds will be better” and that the answer choices will go from five to four. In addition, he shared that the “now required essay will be optional.”

Hoover also said that the exam’s content will “draw heavily” from the Common Core and its “evidence based interpretations of texts, vocabulary used in college and careers, and depth-over-breadth math skills.”

Also, according to Hoover, “There will no longer be a penalty for guessing.”

And, Hoover also described the new SAT’s questions as being “less gimmicky.”

Ned Johnson, a co-author of the book, “Conquering the SAT,” said that if a school has not prepared students for the new test, “the test isn’t going to serve you well.”

West Essex High offers a half-year SAT Preparatory course, which introduces students to the questions and environment of the test. SAT Prep teacher, Stefanie DuCasse, said she believes the new SAT will be “beneficial” for students, due to the new regulation where students will not be penalized for wrong answers.

“The SAT curriculum is changed for the new SAT,” DuCasse said. “It is using Khan Academy to help students have an individualized plan and a focus on what they need to improve on.”

According to the website, Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. 

While the old test is still around for the Dec. 5, 2015 and Jan. 23, 2016 exams, some students have said they will forgo taking the new version, preferring something they are used to. This test may be “old,” but it has not gotten old for all students, some students have said.

“We’ve been drilled on [the old SAT],” said junior Catherine DiGangi.

Junior year is a non-stop tug-of-war between college visits, homework, jobs and, of course, standardized tests, according to WEHS students. The uncertainty toward this redesigned test has altered opinions and changed plans. So now, students need to decide, “Is the new SAT the test for me?”

Olivia Ritter is a junior at West Essex High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into West Essex.

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