SAT overhaul will affect freshman class in 2016


Study Time: Senior Jake Gallagher studies in the media center on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Finals week begins next Monday, Dec. 16.

Luke Chval

Study Time: Senior Jake Gallagher studies in the media center on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Finals week begins next Monday, Dec. 16.
Senior Jake Gallagher studies in the media center on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
The Scholastic Assessment Test, commonly known as the SAT, will undergo a major overhaul of its entire structure planned for the spring semester of 2016.
The SAT will face several major changes crucial to students’ scores including making the essay, the lack of a penalty for incorrect guesses, relevant vocabulary, more fact based documents, the maximum score change from 2,400 to 1,600 and fewer topics on math.
The test has faced many critiques of its questions and layout. The March edition of the New York Times Magazine states how scores on the SAT are susceptible to test preparation access so that more wealthy students have an advantage in the test, and College Board President David Coleman is determined to mend it in the new versions and structure of the SAT.
Media Center Specialist Gwen Struchtemeyer, who tutors and prepares RBHS students for the ACT and SAT, said a test that needs extensive preparation isn’t unfair for students at RBHS because there are many free resources in the school for these tests.
“Well, the vocabulary that has traditionally been required, that definitely plays into families with higher socioeconomic status, where their parents have probably been to college and have books in their homes, and can pay for prep classes,” Struchtemeyer said. “But here that shouldn’t be a factor because students hopefully know that I am available, and I work with students from all different backgrounds, with kids who are getting a 12 and want a 20, and some who got a 26 and want scholarships.”
Struchtemeyer stresses that the SAT isn’t an IQ test and that preparing for it is the most prudent option for a student wishing to attend college. On the other side of the spectrum, she also says some students take it too seriously which she says defines their personality.
“The most important thing for them to remember is that it isn’t an IQ test. I’m always amazed by students that say, ‘Well, I took it the first time just to see what I would get’,” Struchtemeyer said. “With the athletes that I work with, I ask them if they go to practice and study their next opponents, which they do so why wouldn’t they do the same thing with the SAT?”
Senior Najeebah Hussain, who scored a 2,360 on the SAT, believes that the SAT is fair to all classes of students because she used some of the free resources such as textbooks, which can be found at RBHS, to attain such a high score, and that any student can do so by reading books and asking teachers for help.
“Some people say that ‘Oh, I could’ve done better on the SAT if I studied’, but that’s the point of the test,” Hussain said. “Colleges want to see who studies and retains the information and who is good at taking tests. Having said that, in regards to economic status I don’t know if that’s often the case because personally I just self-studied and looked at books, which anyone can do.”
The current freshman class will have a choice of taking the new version in the spring of their junior year and beyond or the old version in the fall of their junior year. Freshman John Swift says he is in favor of the changes and plans on taking the new version.
“I really like the no penalty for wrong answers,” Swift said. “That was one thing about the SAT I really disliked. I don’t have any complaints about the new changes. I would choose the new test because of the no penalty for wrong answers and the better vocabulary selection.”
The SAT’s change of more memorization skills to applications of knowledge makes it more similar to the ACT, which is a test specifically designed to find a student’s potential ability, and less of what they have prepared for the test.
“The SAT is definitely more memorization and preparation because in many private schools in the East Coast specifically, you can take a semester class completely on scoring well on the SAT,” Struchtemeyer said. “But I think now that it is moving to be more like the ACT, which is more applicational and skills-based.”
By Luke Chval