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SAT changes leave college students bitter

The Scholastic Aptitude Test’s home page explains changes to the entrance exam.

By Tyler Trainor, Point Park News Service:

When Duquesne University student Tony DelSardo learned about changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test that set the 2,400-point scoring scale back to 1,600 in the spring of 2016, the first words that struck him were, “What if?”

“Hearing about the changes makes me think, ‘What if?’ because I’ve always wanted to go to (The University of Pittsburgh), but since my SAT scores weren’t high enough, I wasn’t able to get in,” DelSardo said.

On the other hand, Pitt student David Soltis summed up his feelings with one word: bitter.

“I felt a lot of pressure going into the SATs,” Soltis said. “I took them a few times to try and get better scores, so to see changes on parts I thought were difficult gives me a little bitter taste.”

Claiming the new test has never been more disconnected from what high schools are teaching and what students will learn in college, the board decided to retrench to earlier versions of the test, paving the way instead of blocking students from going to the college of their choice.

College students who took the test in past years said the test was unfair — too long and had many words they had never seen.

“I’m not exactly the best writer. I knew that I wanted to do digital design in college, so I felt the writing section hurt me even though I didn’t plan on pursuing that much after high school,” DelSardo said.

The SATs are seen as a major factor into whether a student can or cannot get into a college. Some colleges take more consideration than others, but ultimately it is a test that determines where students go to school possibly followed by a certain job.

Some extensive changes to this test will premiere in 2016.

The first change is the essay section of the test, which was added in 2005, but it is now optional because the educators felt students were criticized too much on how it was written and not enough on what was said. The scores for this section also rely heavily on the evaluator. There is no set standard.

The reading and writing sections require students to cite evidence for their answer choices. They will not be asked to memorize vague words, but consider the context of words they will or have come across. Students will no longer have to see unclear words and phrases and define them.

In the past, the math section had geometry and word problems solved with a calculator at the student’s disposal. The math portion will no longer allow a calculator in some portions. It will have analysis, problem-solving and algebra among other math concepts that best prepare students for the next levels of education and employment.

“I wish these changes were in play when I was in high school. Even though I am happy where I’m at, I have to wonder how I would do on the new SATs and see where I could have gone,” DelSardo said.

College Board President and CEO David Coleman said in an interview with CNN that “admissions officers and counselors have said they find the data from admissions exams useful, but are concerned that these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school classrooms and surrounded by costly test preparation.”

Duquesne student Alex Perticone went to a summer program before getting into college because his SAT scores were too low.

“It was a pain,” he said. “I did pretty horrible on my SATs. … I hope these students take advantage of the new SAT test in the future, not because it will be easier, but because it will be more fair.”

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