The College Board announced major changes to the SAT exam last week that will begin in the spring of 2016, including a return to the 1600 grade scale, and questions that will be more aligned with current middle and high school curricula.
Other major changes include an optional essay, a greater focus of historical American documents for evidence-based reading and writing, and vocabulary words that students are more likely to utilize in college and careers. “Research will guide our efforts to enhance the work students already do in their classes in grades 6–12,” said College Board president David Coleman in a press release on the organization’s website, which oversees the SAT. “And that research shows that mastery of fewer, more important things matters more than superficial coverage of many.”
The redesign also aligns with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a curriculum that is being adapted into schools across the country. In New York, 2017 will mark the first class of students who must pass the Common Core Regents exams to graduate. Coleman, who became president of the College Board in May 2012, was part of the team that wrote the Common Core standards.
But a College Board spokeswoman said that the redesigned SAT is not accommodating exclusively to the Common Core. “The focus of the redesigned SAT is to measure what is essential for college and career readiness, not any one set of standards,” said Carly Lindauer, the College Boards senior director of external communications. “The College Board assessments measure the knowledge and skills that research shows to be essential for college and career readiness and success.”
The exam changes also correspond with new programs that will be offered by the College Board for low-income students who must face cost-prohibitive decisions before and after the exam, including free waivers to apply to four colleges.