PREPARING FOR THE NEW SAT
There’s a new SAT and, after some delay, the College Board has issued practice exams for it and a Study Guide.
Over the summer of 2015, the C2 tutors employed the new, multi-tiered C2 curriculum to ready students for the revamped test. We saw a steady rise in ability to handle the challenges of the revised SAT on both the math and verbal sides.
I’ll distill our experience into a basic conclusion — this is a much tougher test and requires added depth of preparation from test-takers. From a structure point of view, there will be a Math section (with two parts); Reading and Language components; and an (optional) fifty-minute Essay. Math and verbal will each be scored on an 800-point scale, with the Essay score assigned separately. Math has grown appreciably tougher in terms of territory covered. There are more word problems and multi-step solutions. A no-calculator section has now made an appearance. Whereas the “upper limit” of quantitative questions was Algebra II, trigonometry and calculus have now moved in. Students taking Reading will now encounter college-level non-fiction passages; “foundational documents” drawn from United States history; and interpretation of graphs and tables. Vocabulary has been meshed with the Reading questions, previously it occupied its own subsection. Rather than writing an essay expressing an opinion (with requisite support), long a staple of high-school English, students will have to focus solely on rhetorical techniques utilized by authors to articulate a position. (There are few if any secondary schools in Tarrant County which teach writing in this exclusive manner).
The ACT by the way has not embarked on the road the SAT is traveling, implicitly recognizing that the ACT is founded on what high schools use in their instructional efforts, not what the President of the College Board wants them to teach. The ACT’s comment: “Our evidence-driven approach is what keeps the ACT grounded in research yet continually relevant — the gold standard in college and career readiness assessment — without the need for radical or sweeping changes”. Hmm; I’d say that’s what is called a difference of academic opinion.
So — what should be the approach of students to the upcoming version of the SAT (and PSAT)? My answer would be — prepare early and thoroughly. It’s a whole new testing ball game.
C2 Center Director
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