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Mixed reactions among foreign students to changes made to SAT exam

Changes in SAT

The first major changes to the SAT exam were announced by the company that administers two of the most popular US college admission tests.  There are mixed reactions on whether such changes will help or hurt international students interested in American schools. The mandatory essay and the infrequently used vocabulary words are dropped and passages referencing U.S. historical documents are added.

 According to some, dropping the vocabulary words will be a great advantage as it poses the biggest challenge to the international students. However, there are also concerns about adding questions relating to U.S. historical documents. Most of the foreign students feel that since it is an American based test, there may be a lot of unexpected things in the SAT EXAM and questions on cultural references will be very difficult to identify with. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, some 800 of the approximately 3,000 four year colleges in the U.S. do not take the SAT or its rival test, the ACT.  But, those who do can put foreign students at a major disadvantage. Since the test is in English language, students from foreign countries who did not grow up learning English or without any prior test preparation can find it really very tough.


According to Eddie West of the National Association for College Admission Testing, the changes made to the SAT exam are very positive as they link up with the necessary skills and abilities that students need to succeed not just in getting into a college or university, but in future as well. But, he also agrees that questions relating to U.S. historical documents can put international students at a major disadvantage. It is really uncommon for foreign students to be well versed with the Declaration of Independence or Martin Luther King Jr’s work and anything along that line that may be included in the examination. He also says that it has become necessary for U.S. schools to learn more about the coursework of overseas high schools to help them make better decisions regarding the criteria of admissions. There are approximately 8,000 international students in the United States which is about 4 per cent of the college population.

 The revisions to the SAT examination will begin in 2016 for the 1.5 Million students who take the test each year.

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