Early feedback on Redesigned SAT

Whew, we made it! The Redesigned SAT is here! If I hadn’t been disallowed from taking the test, I’d be sharing my own thoughts on the test in this space. Instead, I’ll share what I’ve heard from my students here.

Inside Higher Ed did a pretty interesting writeup that’s worth checking out, by the way. Link to that here.

My students had similar feedback to what students in the linked article had to say, with a couple of interesting exceptions. The most interesting commonality is that the test was pretty much completely uncontroversial. Students knew what was being asked. Most students knew the basic strategy that they should answer every question. Everyone thought it was long and tedious. Sounds about right.

One of our students said that the essay was particularly challenging. I thought that was interesting because this student is not only a top-shelf English student, she’s also taking AP Language/Composition, which is the best course available in high schools to prepare for the new SAT essay. She said that she was just plain exhausted by the time she got to it. She’d just completed a 55 minute math section, then had to go straight into the 50 minute essay. That’s almost two hours of uninterrupted testing, so you can imagine why she felt exhausted.

A couple of points to make regarding what the College Board has said about the new test:

-From the Inside Higher Ed article re: the new math test: “The College Board says the much wider range of topics now featured will be eliminated so that students can study specific areas and feel confident they will be tested.” Uh, I call B.S. Seriously, if you look at the test, you’ll see that it primarily focuses on algebra and basic number operations. There is SOME content that goes beyond the focus of the previous version of the test, like remainder theorem and roots of higher power polynomials. We saw that material in the practice tests, and from what my students have told us, that’s exactly what was on the test. I believe students will be able to confidently say that they’ve covered all of the content of the math test on the Redesigned SAT with less effort than on the previous version of the test.

-College Board also reports that students prefer the new version of the test to the old one “by a 6-to-1 ratio.” This data is drawn from a comparison of surveys taken by test takers in March 2015 and March 2016. I would LOVE to see the methodology on how CB drew that conclusion. As a social science student, I know the importance of how and when survey questions are asked. It’s pretty dubious to ask two different groups of students about two different experiences and then draw a direct comparison between them. To (poorly) paraphrase a famous line from the movies, “show me the methodology!”

More on the Redesigned SAT as we learn more…

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