SAT Redesign

With the backdrop of these sharp indicators of demand for the SAT exams overseas, the College Board, the US-based non-profit that owns and develops the exam, recently announced its intention to redesign the test to, “develop an assessment that mirrors the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college. An improved SAT will strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigours of college and career.”

The pending changes to the exam have not yet been announced, but this latest effort follows on a previous round of substantive changes in 2005. It appears, at least in part, to be a response to growing competition from another major entrance exam in the US—the ACT—as well as persistent questions as to the value of standardised testing for college admissions.

2011 saw the ACT move past the SAT for the first time ever as the preferred entrance exam among US high school students, albeit marginally: 1,666,017 US students took the ACT that year as opposed to the 1,664,479 who took the SAT.

While speculation abounds as to what this upcoming redesign will mean to the SAT, and how it will compare to the ACT exam afterward, other observers caution about how the marketplace—students and families in particular—may react to further substantive changes in the SAT.

Mr Shaan Patel is the director of SAT programmes for the test preparation service Veritas Prep and was recently quoted on the pending SAT redesign in Inside Higher Ed:
“Completely revamping the SAT in less than 10 years from its last makeover may be off-putting to the biggest stakeholders involved – the students,” he said. “Students would rather prepare for a test that has been consistent for many years, rather than prepare for a brand new game. The College Board could be shooting itself in the foot by revamping the SAT again, which would likely result in even more students choosing to take the ACT exam.”