The New SAT

Matt Larriva
Mar 15, 2014
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The revised SAT is a setback in the path to a more equal and progressive standardized testing system. After losing market share to the ACT for decades, the SAT will be revised in 2016 with the abstruse goal of testing skills more “essential for readiness and success.”

In the College Board’s list of eight revisions to the SAT, the word “analyze” was repeated nine times. While the goal of creating an analytical test is admirable, the nature of standardized testing precludes it by definition. True analysis (think poetry and complex systems) has no bounded solution, unlike a standardized test, which must. Instead of becoming more cerebrally challenging, the test will now use pre-released texts from an announced collection, thereby diminishing its breadth and making it inherently more predictable and thus more coachable.

Perhaps more frustrating, the College Board announced—as if new—a program aimed at removing the financial component of SAT score disparity by providing fee waivers and free online prep videos via the Khan Academy. The College Board forgets that fee waivers and free online prep have been the norm for years already, and neither has stopped the rich from outscoring the poor.

In the end, the new test will hurt those whom it aimed to help. Students are given no new resources to combat a test that will become more coachable, and thus more favorable to students whose families can afford coaching services.