SAT Exam, one of the most prominent tests meant for assessing the readiness of willing candidates for higher education, is going to get a makeover soon. SAT is all set to undergo major changes. The exam, usually partaken by over a million candidates across the world every year, will be undergoing a sea of change in order to facilitate an effective transition that will help it preserve its relevance and excellence in the awake of changing times.
The revamp, as many prominent education experts put it, is being made primarily due to the fact that the past few years have witnessed a tremendous decline in the exam’s ability to keep itself updated at par with the modern classroom. In fact, that school of thought became apparent when last year the ACT (a rival exam) surpassed the SAT in terms of total number of participants for the first time. ACT exam was founded in the year 1959 and is significantly gaining trust of students for the past decade and was taken by over a million students in the last year itself.
The changes made on the new SAT exam will include an optional essay exam that was mandatory when started in 2005. Further, this exam will require the students to perform a close reading and won’t be penalized for any wrong answers submitted. However, the exam will still include problems that will test the student’s aptitude for Math, Reading and Writing. The exam will basically analyze skills of the students to observe and examining texts and showing good command over them.
The Math problems will be focussed on Linear Equations instead of being too wide in scope, like earlier and also will prohibit use of calculators in some of the sections. This new SAT exam will be available for students to take on computers and for certain low income groups the test fees will be reduced as well. Since ACT surpassed the SAT exam by means of total number of students taking this exam only last year, SAT must increasingly prove itself to be a competitive rival.
There are many who are questioning the relevance of SAT revamp calling it simply a cosmetic move. For instance, the president and founder of Prepskills that provides coaching and preparation for SAT exam in Ottawa and Toronto still calls it a Test that helps in how to take another test. Since SAT has a wider reliability advantage that is proved by colleges marketing this exam to parents as well as students which is ultimately unfair.
The crude reality about SAT is that it doesn’t offer too accurate a prediction of academic excellence. The basic format of the exam was a list of multiple choice questions that are old and traditional in approach and do not offer much newness on the learning front. As per Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson the competitive tests like SAT must be designed to enhance critical thinking in students and help in increased problem solving skills too. He is actually in the middle of revamping the test model in his province and change the standards that would focus on aspects mentioned above and make the exam process less stressful for students as well as parents. According to him, change should be constant in curriculum as well as in way of assessment.
Taking these exams still remains a debatable issue as they seldom provide a link to what is taught in high school. Further, the test also doesn’t aid in finding out as to how many and which of the answers were right and wrong and why. According to some, exams like SAT are no less than an ordeal or a severely trying experience that offers no utility to students in terms of learning and self assessment.
Any kind of new and small improvisation in SAT exam will serve no purpose unless students are given a chance to help themselves in measuring their own performance and helps in learning aspects that would help them in life and in gaining knowledge as well. Anyhow, the changes made in SAT would obviously help students in many ways as they would no longer be penalized for wrong answers which means intelligent guessing would be encouraged. Also, it is heartening to observe focus being made on quantitative reasoning in the subject of Math.
The one major question that is constructive in approach has been made an optional one in the SAT exam which is quite ironical as a student’s ability to construct, phrase and present his/her thought in an analytical manner is a good way to test the thought process and command over the language. This updation was quite unnecessary as many feel.
Despite all the major or minor changes done in the SAT exam, it has become imperative for colleges and universities to think and join hands in reinventing and revamping a competitive exam’s structure in order to enhance a student’s thought process while enlightening him/her to perform better. The fundamental need is to promote the positivities of learning new things that will help students in choosing their respective line of careers and also aim to overrule the tried and tested and painful long procedures of testing that are no longer usable practically.
Again, the idea is not to completely scrap the tests that are being conducted at present, it is advisable to focus on the betterment of these competitive exams and help students in honing their abilities to think clearly and easily comprehend and present critical ideas.