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College Board Releases More Details about SAT Changes
April 16, 2014

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The College Board released more details about its redesigned SAT test, including 211 pages of specifications and sample items.

The SAT, redesigned in 2005, will revert to the 1600-point maximum and will have 153 questions overall (57 in mathematics, 52 in reading, and 44 in writing), down from the current 171. And the vocabulary required will be of a more real-world flavor, ending a tradition of students learning arcane words for the sole purpose of passing the test. Also more relevant will be questions and settings that require students to use algebra and knowledge of society in actual contexts (and an example of that is the sample question asking students to convert currencies in order to travel from one country to another). One sample question in the College Board's document asked students to comment on whether a political speech adequately advanced the political candidate's argument.

The most fundamental change, announced earlier this year, is that the written essay component of the examination will be optional. Colleges and universities will set the requirement for whether applicants need to have completed the essay portion of the SAT, and students will opt accordingly. A main aspect of the essay, in a change from previous incarnations, will require students to provide written analysis of a text.

For the required elements, multiple-choice questions will offer four choices, not five. In addition, wrong answers and blanks will not result in points penalties.

Also included in the changes, which will take effect in 2016, will be an option to take the exam using a computer.

In 2013, 1.7 million students took the SAT exam.



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