The College Board has announced new changes to the SAT.The infamous test no longer has an essay section or subject tests. Many students and teachers have mixed feelings about the changes that are being implemented.
The SAT is a test to judge college readiness for all high school students; however, the test is usually taken in a student’s junior and or senior year. The SAT has four sections- reading, writing, math without a calculator, and math with a calculator.In the past the SAT has also had an essay portion, which was offered at an additional price, as well as a subject tests which according to a 2018 article published by CollegeVine, a site dedicated to informing students about colleges, “assesses a students knowledge in specific subject areas,” The removal of these two portions has taken some pressure off of students who plan to take the SAT, like, junior, Kamdon McFarland.
“I was planning to take the SAT with the essay the next time it was offered, but now since the essay is no longer available, it takes a big load off my shoulders because that’s one less portion of the SAT I have to study for. I’ve been studying for the SAT by doing workbooks and I plan to go to the SAT prep classes Mansfield ISD is holding, so that I can focus and perfect the sections of the test that I still have to take. I’m more motivated to take the SAT now because writing essays really isn’t my thing, especially when the stakes are so high. However, even though I don’t have to take the essay, I am still nervous to take the SAT just because it’s the biggest test I’ve taken up until this point in my life and it quite literally determines my future, as far as colleges go,” McFarland said.
However, some feel that the removal of the essay section on the SAT will do more harm than good. The College Board has stated on their website that “writing remains essential to college readiness and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills, but there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing,” According to College Board the essay portion of the SAT wasn’t the most effective way to measure students writing however they will continue to measure students writing abilities throughout the tests. However some people like AP United States History teacher, Leigh Smith, feel like these changes may have unintended consequences.
“I think a national test is the great equalizer. Essays are an integral part of the evaluation process. I would assume that most higher level colleges will now require students to submit more essays on their application. I think the College Board should quit pandering to the lower level students and keep their standards high. By lowering standards, they will create problems with students going into colleges that they are not ready or prepared for. This creates the cycle of students who end up not graduating, but incurring student debt. While these changes may take pressure off of students in the short term, it will cause issues for them later,” Smith said.
Smith feels that the College Board should make adjustments to other tests that they provide in order to benefit all students.
“The AP exams are the ones that should’ve been changed. Too many schools have missed so much instruction time, few AP programs are “on schedule” in their course. Many schools are 3-4 weeks behind schedule. While others are several months behind,” Smith said.
The senior class of 2021 has been impacted heavily by Covid-19 and their SAT tests have not been immune to these changes. According to Georgetown University, more than 1,240 of the nation’s 2,330 bachelor degree- granting schools have said they will not require students to submit ACT/SAT scores when they apply for 2021 admission. However, some class of 2021 graduates like, senior Michael Parker, decided to take the test to be on the safe side.
“I took the test, even though most colleges I was applying to didn’t require it or accepted me based off of my transcript, without my test scores because I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I think that everyone should have the option to take the test. I ended up not writing the essay but I’m glad I had that option.” Parker said.
Regardless of one’s opinions on the changes College Board has made, College Board has once again changed the SAT test to more effectively measure high school students college readiness that is such a staple of one’s high school career.