By the time they reach their junior year, high school students have to start prepping for exams that will determine next steps in higher education.
“After high school, I plan to go to college and I’m really interested in studying law or psychology,” said Katie Weinzierl, a junior at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson.
Like many, she is planning on taking the new SAT exam.
“I’ve been taking tutoring classes. They give you a huge book and you just take practice test after practice test, and it’s kind of annoying,” Weinzierl said.
Undergoing the biggest change it's had in the past 10 years, the new SAT removed things such as the vocabulary section and made the essay portion optional.
Michael Boothroyd, executive director of College Admissions Programs for Kaplan Test Prep, one of the largest testing preparation services in the county, said the makeover was one of the most dramatic overhauls of any main college exam.
"Everything about the SAT is different except the name. First of all section lengths are much longer than they used to be and the reason for that is questions have a lot more reading on them than they used to and that’s not just in the reading section, which would make some sense, but also in the math section.”
Even the way students are scored has changed.
“The SAT is going back to in many ways just the straight forward 1600 score and a lot of parents had that type of scoring on the SAT when they took it,” Boothroyd said.
All of this to get students to focus more on the content and less on testing strategy. But while educators agree the change was needed, they’ve told us that there has been frustration between students and faculty about how the test was rolled out and introduced as a whole.
“The reality is that we’re used to change, we’re used to handling change and helping our students handle change, the challenge that we face this year is the change hasn’t been introduced very well, there hasn’t been a lot of transparency on that front. That really changed our ability to help our students,” said Jeffrey Neill, director of College Counseling for Western Reserve Academy.
That's why some students have decided to not take the SAT this year.
“I’m really focusing on the ACT,” said Paul Schumacher, a junior at Western Reserve Academy. He continued, “because it’s a more constant test. I know what the questions are going to be like and I don’t have to worry about the change in formats of the test.”
But Jeffrey Neil said he’ll do the best he can to prepare students, even though he has not found a specific method just yet.
“Some of the changes have eliminated some of that strategy at this stage. That’s not to say there isn’t a strategy for taking the SAT, it’s that we just haven’t really fully figured out what that is yet.”
The new SAT test will be given for the first time on March 5 to students across the country.