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SAT Releases Preview Of New Test Questions02:14
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High school students planning to take the SAT in 2016 can now look up sample questions to the new version of the college admissions test.

The College Board, the company that owns the SAT, announced last month that it was making big changes to the test, which has lost ground to the rival ACT test.

Ned Johnson, president of Prep Matters in Washington, D.C., says the College Board is trying to make the SAT more relevant.

"At the end of the day, if the test aligns more with what kids know in school, that has to be better for them," Johnson says. "It aligns their interest more and makes better use of their time. The biggest challenge with the change of the SAT is that change creates uncertainty and unpredictability and it just makes people really anxious, and stressed brains don't work well."

But many critics, including educational consultant Bill Dingledine, say the new test won't address the underlying problem with standardized tests.

"I really don't think it's going to change a whole lot because students and families who have a lot of money can pay to get additional testing tutoring schooling to prepare for the test," Dingledine says. "The original SAT was thought of as an aptitude test, and I think there are a lot of skills and abilities that are not tested with the new test."

Among the key changes to the SAT:

  1. A move away from "obscure words" to focus on "relevant words, the meanings of which depend on how they’re used."
  2. "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Essay sections" where students will "be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources."
  3. The essay will now be optional and it ask students to read a passage and explain "how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience."
  4. Problems will be set in a "real-world" context.
  5. Every test will include a passage from a U.S. "founding document" like the Declaration of Independence, or something from the "great global conversation" about civic life.
  6. There will no longer be a penalty for wrong answers.

Guests

  • Ned Johnson, president of Prep Matters, which offers academic tutoring, test preparation and college counseling.
  • Bill Dingledine, independent educational consultant in Greenville, South Carolina. He was on the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

This segment aired on April 16, 2014.

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