The SAT Gets A Makeover

The SAT Gets A Makeover


The College Board rolled out a slew of announcements today at SXSWedu; changes to the SAT, a new partnership with Sal Khan to deliver free test prep, and Pulitzer Prizes for kids. These moves show the College Board shifting away from a ‘make or break’ gauntlet and moving closer to an assessment of what kids really need to be successful.


On the new exam, set for release in 2016, content will change, writing will be optional, and scoring will return to a 1,600 point scale. “What we seek here is a clearer and more aligned experience to the work kids do in schools,” says David Coleman, College Board’s president. The new test will focus more on skills needed for college and career readiness.

According to the press release, the new tests will focus less on obscure vocabulary like ‘jejune’ in favor of more practical, commonly used words. Instead of covering a broad range of topics, it will focus on deeper, more analytical types of questions. Students will be asked to support answers with evidence. The math section will cover less topics. Calculators will only be permitted on some section math.

Killing the breadth, going deep, and a focus around college and career readiness sounds a lot like Common Core. However, not once were the standards mentioned by College Board. When asked why a relationship between the new test and the new standards wasn’t stated more explicitly, Coleman deferred, saying, “The focus is on the work, and less on slogans.”

The Partnership

Khan Academy will partner with College Board to provide free test prep to students. They will work closely with College Board to develop content and practice questions to match the exam. Users will be able to take diagnostics to find out what skills they need, review content, and practice problems.

Currently, there are SAT prep videos available on the site. However, over the next year the nonprofit will develop 200 more videos, practice problems, as well as teaching and coaching tools created with advice from College Board. Khan Academy will fully transition to new test content by 2015.

The Prize

While writing might be taking a back seat on the SAT, College Board revealed plans to create a writing competition, modeled after the Pulitzer Prize. The prize will be awarded for analytical writing pieces. Winners will be published in The Atlantic. More details have yet to be released.

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