Nearly every agrees: the March 2016 SAT will mark the introduction of a test more difficult than the current SAT (you have four more opportunities to take the current version).
Reading is more challenging with about 20% of questions asking for evidence that supports a student’s answer to the previous question. The so-called “Optional Essay” (hardly optional for the majority of top-tier colleges!) requires textual analysis in double the time of the current test (50 minutes compared with the current 25). And the math. Oh my, the math looks pretty rigorous, to say the least.
As the College Board releases updates and new information regarding the redesigned test, an increasingly clearer picture of what awaits a student is coming into view. We can’t know for certain how students will react to and perform on the College Board’s new SAT math, and how the scoring system – as yet unclear in relation to the current scaled scoring – may or may not provide the scaling needed to make the new test content as indicative of student ability as the current math does (or does not).
What we do know about Math on the redesigned SAT is that a student will have more elbow room to make mistakes. That is, correctly answering fewer math questions on the new test (out of 58) will achieve the same SAT Math score as answering more questions correctly (out of 54) on the current test.
For example, to achieve a score of around 500 on the current SAT, a student must answer about 31 questions correctly out of 54. To achieve the same score on the re-designed SAT, a student will have to answer about 24 questions correctly out of a total of 58!
Unfortunately, we won’t know for many months what a score of 500 on the redesigned SAT actually means. That is, we won’t know if a 500 (or 600 or 700 or any other score, for that matter) on the redesigned SAT is equivalent to that same score on the existing SAT. Nor will we know for quite some time how scores on the redesigned SAT stack up next to their equivalent scores on the ACT.
As we look at the scoring scales for the new Evidence-Based Reading and the Writing tests, it appears that each contribute equally to the new R+W Score (on a total scale of 200-800). A very competent reader who’s happens to be a weak writer may achieve the same score as a poor reader who nonetheless has a command of standard English grammar and syntax. We wonder if this means that colleges will dig deeper and pay careful attention to the many sub-scores on the new SAT.
What is the College Board trying to tell us? Neither you nor we know the precise answer, but the months ahead will surely prove interesting as the College Board attempts to turn its ship around in order to compete with ACT and reduce its loss of market share. Is that what all this is about? Stay tuned.