The New SAT: an ACT clone?

The workbook that the College Board recently released provides details regarding the new PSAT and SAT.  According to a statement in Chapter 4, “The exams are connected by the same underlying continuum of knowledge and skills that research shows are the most essential for college and career readiness and success.” These commendable ideals seem to mirror the philosophy of the rival college exam, the ACT.  Is it merely coincidental that the College Board came to these conclusions after experiencing a loss of market share to the ACT over the last couple of years?

Those who have compared the two exams (the ACT and the “new” SAT) can readily recognize their similarities in form and substance.  The SAT will no longer have a guessing penalty. The new format is similar to that of the ACT.  The current SAT contains three major divisions: Reading, Writing, and Math. Each of these is then subdivided into three shorter sections, so the test has nine sections that count towards the student’s score. (Except for the June 2015 test mishap that discounted two sections that were mis-timed.) The tenth (experimental) section is unlabeled and does not factor into the score.

The PSAT and the new SAT present only TWO major scoring sets: Evidence Based Reading/ Writing and Math. The test appears in the following format: Section 1-Reading(65 minutes, 52 questions) Section 2 Writing and Language(35 minutes, 44 questions), Section 3 Math Test- no calculator ((25 minutes, 20 questions), Section 4-Calculator(55 minutes,38 questions). The essay is “optional,” like that on the ACT and provides 50 minutes for students to read and analyze a non-fiction passage.

The questions do appear more relevant to the needs of the workplace and college.  Will the College Board reassert its dominance in the world of college exams? Only time will tell.


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