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How should the recently announced changes to the SAT impact high schools?
They shouldn’t. Not one bit.
My message to high school teachers and guidance counselors: Keep doing what you are doing. For the most part, students are going to be tested on the same reading, math, and writing skills. Much of the content tested on the SAT is not going to change. One of the best ways for a student to prepare for the SAT will always be to bust his or her butt in school and try to ace every high school test. One of the best ways for a school to prepare its students for the SAT will always be to offer as many challenging courses as possible and to insist that its student strive towards the highest standards.
The reality is that the SAT is changing to be more like the ACT, which is already the high school exit exam in 13 states around the country. The SAT is going to eliminate the penalty for wrong answers (just like the ACT.) The SAT is going to make the essay portion optional (just like the ACT.) The SAT is going to de-emphasize esoteric (one definition of esoteric: hard to understand) vocabulary (just like the ACT.) The SAT is going to add a science reading passage that students will need to answer comprehension question about (just like the ACT.)
As I mentioned in a post last week, practice, repetition, and familiarity will remain the keys. Neither the current nor future SAT, nor the ACT, are or ever will be perfect. And believe me, I should know. I took the official ACT in December at my local high school, just as I had taken the SAT a few years ago. (Read about my experiences here: SAT here and ACT here.) But both tests require students to demonstrate critical thinking skills that will serve students well in life.
So allow me to return to my original point – high schools, and the hard-working educators who work in them should greet these changes with a collective “Who Cares?!?!” and go back to their jobs, which will always remain the most important ones in the world.
Tom Ehlers is the President and Founder of Method Test Prep. Tom graduated from Princeton University and completed Princeton’s Teacher Preparation Program. He has spent the last 15 years developing effective teaching methods and learning techniques that have helped thousands of students significantly raise their college admissions test scores. He has worked as an educational consultant with school districts across the country and advises them on ways to improve the districts’ college admission test scores.
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