The SAT exam had a new look Saturday, a change a long time in the making for the College Board.
Sweeping changes have been coming, but they went into effect over the weekend.
We checked in with a leading college exam prep expert to find out some tips to help your college-bound student succeed.
David Kim is CEO of C2 Education. Kim says to watch for two major changes: content changes and stylistic or format changes.
"It’s going from 2400 in 3 subject areas - math, reading and writing - down to two subject areas, a math and a verbal section," explained Kim. "So, two sections out of 800. So, a perfect score will now be a 1600."
In terms of preparation, he says preparation will now be more content driven.
"It will definitely be more related to what a student learns in High School. The new test is really doing away with a lot of the questions that really lead to a lot of test anxiety."
For example, Kim says the test will eliminate the penalty for guessing on the new test. Previously, there was a .25 point deduction if you guessed wrong. He says answer questions should also be less confusing.
"On the new one, the answer choices are much more similar," added Kim of the changes. "Because of that, testing and strategy and tips are going to become much more relevant, and definitely knowing you know the content, having strong reading skills, having strong math skills are really what’s going to help a student do well on a future test."
So, how will this change college admissions process? The College Board has expressed an interest in closing the socio-economic gap for college-bound test takers. Test prep materials will be available for free, and low-income students will qualify for some fee waivers.
"One of the goals the college board has is to make a test you know more reflective of what a student learns in high school so that it would be a better indicator," said Kim. "The test results would be a better indicator for college admissions officers to use when deciding admissions for students. Unfortunately, time will really tell whether the college board was very successful in that goal."
Kim says early assessments indicate that students who have done well in high school, and who have taken a more challenging class schedule, should do better. He says it’s important to remember that a college exam is not the only factor that will determine where your student is admitted to school.
"Schools look at their GPAs, the courses they take, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, the college essay - those are all a very holistic part of the entire admissions process," said Kim. "When a student is looking to apply to a school it’s important to really do your homework and do your research. And really find a school that’s [the] best fit."
He says it’s important to look beyond "name brand."
"There are so many schools out there, and you know, really finding the right fit and the right match for a particular student, that’s probably the most important thing that a parent or student really needs to do," said Kim. "The new SAT is one that’s being touted as the most coachable ever, because, it really is a content-driven test. It really is a matter of time and studying on this new test, because you know a lot of the kind of tricky questions, and the SAT type questions have been eliminated for a much more straightforward test, even though it is, content-wise, a more rigorous test."
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