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SAT undergoes reconstruction

The hectic morning begins with a mad rush to an unknown school followed by tense minutes spent wandering an unfamiliar campus in search of a room where other nervous students wait.

The morning of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) presents a stressful challenge to those who have no previous experience with the SAT; and this year there are even more unknowns to worry about.

The updated version of the SAT is due to arrive in high schools across the nation in March 2005. This reorganized form of the SAT contains many new elements and will be missing some components from years past.

Additions to the SAT include a student written essay, shorter reading passages and third-year college preparatory math. Quantitative comparisons and analogies have been eliminated.

The largest change is the construction of a third section of the SAT. The new writing section will include multiple-choice questions relating to grammar and usage, and a student written essay. This portion of the test has some students feeling anxious.

“I am a little nervous about taking the new SAT,” Chapman Hutchins, ’06, said. “Especially about the new essay section; I’m not amazing when I need to write an essay.”

Although students may not welcome the new essay, the writers of the new SAT feel that it will help colleges better determine which students to accept. It will also aid in placement.

“The essay on the new SAT will be available for viewing by colleges that students apply to,” Jon Endicott, vice principal, said. “Colleges will forward the essay to the placement offices and it will help them determine what English classes students should take.”

The essay will measure the student’s ability to organize and express ideas clearly, develop and support a main idea and use appropriate word choice and sentence structure. Those who are able to do well will reap the benefits when they apply to college.

The writing section will be scored the same way as the other two SAT sections, with scores ranging from 200-800. The total possible score of the three sections will be 2400.

Other elements of the SAT are changing as well. The verbal section will be renamed the critical reading section. It will include reading comprehension and sentence completions, as well as paragraph length critical reading in addition to the longer passages of material currently on the test.

“I don’t believe any of the changes besides the essay are that big of a deal,” Endicott said. “They will make the test more fair for students because it will better assess what students are really learning. Classes don’t spend much time on analogies so taking them off of the test will be better for students.”

The mathematics section will be expanded to include exponential growth, absolute value and functional notation. It will also place more emphasis on linear functions, manipulations with exponents and properties of tangent lines.

“I am most worried about the math section,” Ron Blalack, ’06, said. “I am concerned about being able to finish on time.”

Quantitative comparison questions will also be eliminated. Students can still use a four function scientific or graphing calculator to help them decipher the answers.

College Board has updated their website to go along with the new SAT and now includes a New SAT Preparation Center. This site is equipped with practice questions from the new SAT as well as a review of the new SAT essay.

They also provide a downloadable, free full-length practice test as well as opportunities to buy the new Official SAT Study Guide and register for the new SAT online course, which will be available beginning in October.

College Board does not recommend that students hurry to take the current SAT to avoid taking the new version.

“I am going to study as much as I can,” Stephanie Morrison, ’06, said. “My friend’s sister has a book that she is going to let me use. I also took the PSAT so that I can be better prepared for the real test.”

The PSAT was offered on Oct. 13. The new version of the SAT will be offered Mar. 12, May 7 and June 4.

Students should register for the date they want about a month and a half in advance to reserve a place. Registration for the new SAT begins in December. In January the registration fee will increase from $29.50 to $41.50.

For more information about the new SAT, go to the College Board website at or contact Endicott at 299-2695, ext. 126.

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