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Big Changes In Store For SAT Test

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — College board officials announced this week that an update to the SAT test is needed to make the exam more representative of what high school students study in class.

The changes don’t go into effect until 2016, which means this year’s ninth graders will be the first to take it in their junior year.

It’s a tough test that creates anxiety, and one that requires practice and sometimes even a tutor.

Leslie Van Otterloo of Sylvan Learning Center says the test has the potential to affect a student’s post-secondary opportunities.

“We see it on a regular basis that students may have a 4.0 [GPA}, be at the top of the class and this one test could keep them from having the options in front of them that really should be there,” Van Otterloo said.

Some families send their kids to Sylvan to get some extra help.

“They’re so different than the types of questions they see in the classroom,” she said. “It’s also a big thing that it’s timed. None of the tests that they’ve done up to this point are timed.”

One of the biggest changes to the SAT is the option of taking the test on a computer rather than filling in circles on an answer sheet. Also, extra penalties for wrong answers are a thing of the past.

“If you get something wrong, you lose one quarter of point. So that leaves students sitting and spending time looking at the test and going, ‘Do I really know it well enough to I should put an answer down, or should I leave it blank?’ she said, “because they’re going to be penalized if they get it wrong.”

Students will also find vocabulary words that are less complex and more commonly used.

“They have words that students would never come across in any sort of reading that they would do for school,” Van Otterloo said.

When it comes to math, the new test will cover fewer topics rather than a wide range, and calculators will only be permitted on certain sections of the test.

Tutors At Sylvan say the new SAT will be more like the ACT test, which is what most students take in the Midwest.

This is the first update to the SAT since 2005. The possible top score right now is 2400. It’ll be 1600 when these changes go into effect.

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