Scoring a 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test will no longer be a bragging right as members of the future class of 2010 strive to become the first test-takers to strive for a maximum score of 2400 points on a new version of the college placement exam.
Beginning on March 12, 2005, high school students will take the new SAT, which will include an essay writing section, grammar questions and more advanced mathematical concepts. In another change, analogies will be replaced with additional reading passages. The test will be half an hour longer than the old SAT and will cost $10 to $12 more than the previous exam, the College Board Web site said.
The most noticeable change in the new SAT is the addition of an essay section, resulting in the discontinuation of the SAT II Writing test. The College Board, the group responsible for creating and administering the SAT and Advanced Placement exams, said on its Web site that this section will be a better indicator of a student’s potential to succeed in college.
“By including a third measure of skills, writing, the new SAT will reinforce the importance of writing throughout a student’s education and will help colleges make better admissions and placement decisions,” the Web site said.
Yale President Richard Levin said it was “too early to tell” how the new exam will affect the Yale admissions process.
“I assume like other changes, we’ll figure out how to make the best use of the information,” Levin said.
Director of the New SAT Program at Kaplan Test Prep Jon Zeitlin ’87 said the new exam will provide universities with a more complete view of important skills that students should hone during high school.
“Writing, especially at a liberal arts school is [a skill] key to [a student’s] success,” he said.
Zeitlin said he views the change as an improvement for the test, but he said students taking the new exam will face new pressures.
“From the students’ standpoint, the test is going to be a longer test, a more difficult test and a more expensive test,” Zeitlin said.
Both Kaplan and Princeton test preparation agencies are taking steps towards reformatting their programs for the new test.
Jeff Rubenstein, who serves as assistant vice president of test preparation company The Princeton Review, said economics motivated the College Board to change the SAT.
After former University of California President Richard Atkinson criticized the SAT for failing to accurately assess students’ potentials, the College Board felt pressured to change the test or lose a large client, Zeitlin said.
California residents constitute 15 percent of SAT test-takers, Rubenstein said.
“The motives for this change were not virtuous,” Rubenstein said. “They were not educational, they were economic. The College Board has never been motivated by educational interest.”
The College Board’s Associate Director of Public Affairs Kristin A. Carnahan, declined to comment about the existence or extent of the University of California’s influence over the change.
Rubenstein and Zeitlin said when the College Board changed the test to comply with the university’s demands, the result was an exam that better reflected skills they said students should master during high school.
Rubenstein said he feels the creation of the new test by the College Board diffuses the movement to eliminate the SAT’s role in the admissions process altogether. Though he said the new SAT is a better test, he said it does not eliminate concerns about the effectiveness of a test in determining a student’s ability.
“I’m afraid [the change] is going to make [SATs] more important,” Rubenstein said. “The fact that the College Board has given in to California’s demands has taken the wind out of the sails of the anti-SAT movement.”
Most colleges and universities are still undecided about which version of the SAT they will accept, The Princeton Review Web site said. The Web site said during the transition many schools will accept scores from both versions of the SAT, but the University of California will only accept the new SAT for the class of 2010 and beyond.