SAT Essay Becoming Optional, Among Other Changes

From Fastweb/by Elizabeth Hoyt

http://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/4192-sat-essay-becoming-optional-among-other-changes?utm_source=nlet&utm_content=fw_c1_20140312

March 06, 2014

The College Board will overhaul the SAT, making drastic changes. These changes will likely be embraced by high school students everywhere as they include making the essay portion optional, the elimination of ambiguous wording throughout the exam and the termination of point deductions for incorrect answers.

The changes will take effect in 2016 – a year that many students will undoubtedly consider their lucky break.

According to David Coleman, president and chief executive officer of the College Board, the changes to the SATaddress concerns of educators, parents and students regarding costly standardized test preparation and the fact that the exams have become increasingly disengaged from the high school students’ actual curriculum.

“It is time to admit that the SAT and ACT have become disconnected from the work of our high schools,” Coleman is reported as saying in a speech in early March regarding the changes. “Too many feel that the prevalence of test prep and expensive coaching reinforces privilege rather than merit.

“We’ve also been listening to students and their families for whom these tests are often mysterious and filled with unproductive anxiety,” said Coleman. “They are skeptical that either the SAT or the ACT allows them to show their best work.”

Coleman urges that the overhaul’s goal is to create “an exam that is clearer and more open than any in our history.”

He wants students and families to feel more comfortable in their perceptions of the SAT and, almost as a measure of trust and good faith, he’s already publicly shared the essay question that will be on the new optional portion of the exam:

“As you read the passage in front of you, consider how the author uses evidence such as facts or examples, reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence, and stylistic or persuasive elements to add power to the ideas expressed. Write an essay in which you explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.”

The source in which the passage is taken from, of course, will vary.

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