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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


SAT format change represents shift in society

The SAT’s new format includes adjustments to scoring methods and an optional writing section. (PHOTO CREDIT : MCTCAMPUS)

Having been a recent victim of the SAT, it was surprising to hear of the change in format to the test. I have made and heard countless complaints in the past about the irrelevance of the SAT and it seems College Board is finally taking the initiative to modify the test.

The SAT has reverted back to its 1600-point scale, which is split into two 800-point sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. The essay has become optional, incorrect answers are no longer penalized, the use of obscure words has been eliminated and problems will now be rooted in real-world contexts.

I at least appreciate the College Board’s step in leveling the playing field for less financially able students. The site will offer math problems along with videos on how to solve them. This provides an alternative to the expensive SAT books, classes and tutors that teachers and parents always seem to encourage.

Initially I was skeptical because I worried changing the SAT’s format meant a decline in the standards of American education. I realize that the SAT probably needed a change, but on a global level, it makes the United States seem like weaker competition compared to other power houses.

All of this indicates a veering away from more traditional forms of American education. Our means of communicating have changed dramatically from even just a few years ago. People are more likely to skim through their Twitter feed than pick up a newspaper.

As a society, we have begun to communicate in a clipped and direct way out of a desire for speed and efficiency. A 160-character count has become the new norm. College Board sought to better fit into that norm.

This shift in society is now represented in the SAT. Less value is put in the essay and impressive words, and more is put in math and real-world application. Perhaps the SAT has become easier, but maybe it’s because we have dumbed down our standards. I already notice the lack of education on grammar and syntax in our generation and those younger.

There is no direct correlation between students’ scores and their actual potential in college and university. More and more schools are already allowing applicants to opt out of sending in scores. I think the format change may have been necessary to prevent the SAT from becoming obsolete.

Recently, more students take the ACT than the SAT. College Board is, after all, a business, so it’s necessary for the SAT to remain competitive with their rival. Altering the test may keep the SAT in the game.

I personally believe that there will come a time when schools stop considering scores altogether, even with this recent shift. The debate over what these tests actually measure is another one in itself.

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