Are the changes to the SAT beneficial? YES

At many colleges, test scores might work as a deciding factor between students with similar GPAs. For this reason, many students put large amounts of time and money into preparing for tests such as the SAT or ACT.

College Board President David Coleman recently announced that major changes will be made to the SAT in the spring of 2016, changing the testing system as we know it. Overall, the planned changes are a step in the right direction for improving standardized testing.

According to the College Board website, the SAT test is “designed to assess your academic readiness for college.” However, the current SAT has often been criticized for being a “teachable” test. Many students have improved their scores through extensive tutoring in which they receive training and practice for the actual test. Students who can afford tutors thus receive an unfair advantage because they learn tips and tricks to answer questions, putting students that cannot afford tutoring at a disadvantage.

The new SAT format aims to test students on what they have actually learned in school. The College Board plans to create a test that will level the playing field for all students by eliminating the tricks of the previous test. Therefore, tutoring will no longer have as much of an impact on improving scores. The new test will be a more accurate measure of college readiness because students will be tested and evaluated on a more equal playing field.

Among the major changes in the new test is the combination of the reading and writing sections  into one section called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.” The new test will no longer test students on obscure vocabulary, but rather words based on the context of a passage. These words are relevant to the academic and professional world. This is an improvement over the previous test because students no longer have to memorize obscure vocabulary with the help of private tutors.

In addition, the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to create free online tutoring for the test. The College Board also offers an abundance of free practice for students online. If students use the resources that are available to them online, the disparities between tutored test takers and non-tutored test takers will be greatly decreased.

The new SAT also contains logical changes that will make it an improved test. Similar to the ACT, the new SAT will not contain any guessing penalties and the essay will be optional. These improvements will make a better testing atmosphere by giving students more flexibility.

Critics of the new test have claimed that the College Board is making the test easier in an attempt to attract more students. Even if the test is easier, it’s more important that it will be equal for all students.

Given that SAT scores can sometimes single-handedly affect college admissions, it’s important that the College Board strives to create the best test possible. If the changes occur as planned, the College Board will have made the right choice, thus improving to the SAT.