Schools say SAT change is ‘positive’

March 6, 2014

College hopefuls sitting down to take the March 2016 SATs will encounter an exam that is more focused and useful than before.

On Wednesday, College Board President David Coleman announced eight key changes to the exam. The changes will require students to apply a deeper understanding of several topics that matter most for college readiness and success, according to College Board’s website. Additionally, the redesigned test no longer penalizes students for wrong answers, and the score was returned to its original 1,600-point scale. The test was broken into three sections, evidence-based readings and writing, math and an essay. The reading, writing and math sections will be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale. The score for the essay will be reported separately.

While the College Board criticized its own test, calling the previous test “disconnected,” colleges and high schools across the country are now trying to figure out what’s next.

Al Newell, vice president of enrollment for Washington & Jefferson College, said that at face value, the changes seem positive.

“There are no details beyond what has been made public,” he said. “There are some things we can know now and some things we can’t. But the changes seem positive.”

Newell said he met with representatives from the College Board several months ago to provide input for the changes. He said the test will be more reflective of “actual knowledge.”

“This will bring the SAT more in line with what is being assessed.”

Coleman also announced new programs to help low-income students. Students who qualify will be given fee waivers allowing them to apply to four colleges at no charge. Free online practice problems also will be made available.

“This has real potential,” Newell said. “This levels the playing field.”

Still, Newell points out the SAT is only one factor institutions use to determine a potential student’s acceptance.

“The most important thing is the student’s academic record.”

Christine Kindl, the director of communications and public relations at California University of Pennsylvania, agreed.

“Standardized test results, including SAT scores, are just one measure of a student’s potential for college success. During the admission process at Cal U., we also consider a prospective student’s grades, class rank and activities, both in school and in the community. In other words, we look at the whole student, not just a single test score, when considering that student’s application.”

Nonetheless, high school administrators are looking forward to the new test. Washington School District Superintendent Roberta DiLorenzo said the new exam “mirrors what districts are working on.”

“They are positive changes,” she said. “We are developing more lifelong learners.”

For more information on the redesigned SAT, visit College Board’s website at

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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