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  • Inside the Redesigned SAT

    Remember the big, fat SAT® practice book, which made you shudder just looking at its size and heft? But you plowed through the book to get a sense of the unknown – the SAT and the next step toward a college education. Now, with a mere click on the keyboard, the unknown is revealed – the redesigned SAT, which students will begin taking in March 2016. The College Board has made the SAT accessible, transparent, and easier to take.

    A look at “Inside the Test” on the College Board website reveals several changes to the SAT. The newly reformatted three-hour test contains two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. The 50-minute Essay section is optional. The other change is the return of scoring on a 400- to 1600-point scale. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math section each will be scored on a 200- to 800-point scale. Scores for the Essay section will be reported separately. For more information on the new SAT, go to http://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org.

    Having an inside look at this test, College Board wants students to know five things about the new SAT:

    • The good news is that students no longer will be penalized for a wrong answer; taking a guess will not hurt his/her score.
    • The vocabulary section still is challenging, but students will have a better chance of knowing the meaning of the term, or being able to figure it out, from contextual clues.
    • The most significant change in the reading section is students are asked to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources, including historical founding documents.
    • There are two essential math areas tested, and there are multi-step math problems in real-world contexts, which need to be solved. A calculator is no longer permitted during one of the sections on the math test.
    • The optional essay asks students to respond to a prompt to analyze a writer’s argument.

    To help students prepare, College Board is providing a daily practice app and SAT practice tests at SAT Practice | SAT Suite of Assessments – The College Board.

    A test-taking spectrum in the SAT Suite of Assessments can be used by teachers and district leaders to guide instruction. In addition to the SAT, students in eighth- or ninth-grades can take a readiness baseline test called the PSAT 8/9. The next assessment is the check-in and focus test of the PSAT/NMSQT (tenth- and eleventh-graders). These three assessment scores have been placed on the same scale, and provide an indicator score as if the student took the SAT on that day. Please check these assessments and college level studies at http://professionals.collegeboard.com/k-12/prepare.

    Ocean City High School (Cape May County, www.oceancityschools.org) gave the redesigned PSAT 9 to freshmen and the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT to tenth- and eleventh-graders this past fall. A summary of performance by the mean total score is provided for each of these grades, along with comparison data for the state and nation, as well as a demographic breakdown of how the students preformed.

    The High School also received reports on each grade’s progress toward meeting college and career readiness benchmarks as well as individual student-level performance data. We are taking advantage of the AP Potential™, which identifies students who may succeed in AP courses, while increasing access for all students. This information is located at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/about/benefits/connect-to-ap. More assistance on steps to prepare students for the PSAT, PSAT/NMSQT and AP courses, as well as a resource library, are in the Teacher Implementation Guide at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/redesigned-sat-k12-teacher-implementation-guide.pdf.

    The partnership between College Board and the Khan Academy® provides students with free test preparation services, found at https://www.khanacademy.org/sat. Students will need to have an account with College Board to view testing scores and compare their scores against College Readiness Benchmarks. Please advise your students that to access these preparation materials, they must first log-in and create a College Board account using a personal and professional-sounding email. Students should not use their current school email address. At this site, https://studentscores.collegeboard.org, students will receive personalized feedback, college planning and career exploration resources.

    The Student Search Service® also gives PSAT/NMSQT test-takers the option to voluntarily place their names and addresses in a pool of college-bound students interested in receiving admission and financial aid information from certified colleges, universities and scholarship agencies.

    Across New Jersey, school districts are laser-focused on areas of study that matter most for college and career success for their students. A top priority is preparing the Class of 2017 for the new SAT. With the amount of resources now available to school districts, we will be able to better guide and prepare students for college success.

    For questions about the SAT redesign, email SATinstructionalsupport@collegeboard.org.