New SAT: What will those questions look like? Graphic shows difference between new and old SAT college entrance exam
New SAT: What will those questions look like?
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Calculate the foreign exchange rate a vacationing American would pay in India. Estimate from a random sample the number of 18- to 34-year olds who voted for a candidate. These are sample questions from the newly redesigned SAT, which aims for more real-world applications and analysis from students.

The College Board released the sample test questions, offering clues to how the revised college entrance exam, taken last year by 1.7 million students, will look when it rolls out in 2016.

One of the biggest changes is that relatively obscure vocabulary words such as "punctilious" and "lachrymose" are unlikely to appear on the test. Test takers will see words more likely to be used in classrooms or in the workplace, like "synthesis."

Instead of a wide range, the math section will concentrate on areas that "matter most for college and career readiness and success," the College Board said.

The essay section is becoming optional. And it now will require a student to read a passage and explain how the author constructed an argument instead of offering the student's own point of view on a specific issue.

Other changes to the SAT, first announced by the College Board last month, include making a computer-based version of the test an option, getting rid of the extra penalty for wrong answers, limiting the use of calculators to select sections and returning to a 1,600-point scale.

Another expectation: Each test will include a passage from the U.S. founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, or conversations they've inspired, the College Board has said.

To highlight that, one sample question released was adapted from a 1974 speech by Rep. Barbara Jordan, D-Texas, during the impeachment hearings of President Richard Nixon. Test takers must answer questions that best describe Jordan's stance and the main rhetorical effect of a part of the passage.

In the sample question pertaining to the U.S. traveler in India, the test taker must first determine what foreign exchange rate the traveler paid. Then, calculate charges on a prepaid card compared to a Traveler card.

In the sample question related to a political candidate, the test taker must first determine from a table which age group had the greatest number of people reporting they had voted. Then, compare the table to another survey to determine which of four statements about voter turnout is correct.

Cynthia Schmeiser, the College Board's chief of assessment, told reporters that reasoning is still an important component of the SAT, but it will be done in "applied contexts." She said there will be commonalities between the redesigned SAT and the Common Core standards being rolled out in most states, which emphasize critical thinking in English and math in the K-12 setting.

"What we're doing here is trying to distinguish the SAT in many important ways from the current SAT and frankly from other admissions exams to provide the why and the what are the fewer more important things that students need in order to be ready for college and to succeed in college," Schmeiser said.

The College Board said the sample questions are in draft form and subject to change.

"It is our goal that every student who takes the test will be well informed and will know exactly what to expect on the day of the test," Schmeiser and College Board President David Coleman said in a letter posted online.

The SAT was last upgraded in 2005, when analogy questions were removed and the essay portion was added.

Once the predominant college admissions exam, the SAT has been overtaken in popularity by the ACT.

The ACT, which already offers an optional essay, announced last year that it would begin making computer-based testing available. It said Monday that about 4,000 high school students had taken a digital version of the ACT two days earlier as part of a pilot.

Critical thinking challenge: How much did the ACT motivate the College Board to change the SAT?

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COMMENTS (15)
  • madelines-Ste
    4/29/2014 - 01:18 p.m.

    The college board made these changes because for example the essay people could right the Deceleration of Independence was written on April 29th, 1999 by Aberham Lincoln because he wanted to stop the Civil War, just as long as they have a well written essay they can get all of the points so I am glad that these changes are being put into place.

  • garrettA-4
    4/29/2014 - 06:53 p.m.

    The new SAT exams are going to be coming out in 2016. Many changes will be made like the addition of real-world questions, the essay is optional, and getting rid of the extra penalty for wrong answers. The ACT has grown in popularity over the years, some say because of the optional essay portion. The SAT was last updated in 2005 when analogy questions were removed and the essay portion was added. In my opinion, i like the fact of optional essay portion and no extra penalty, but additional questions about real-world situations aren't going to be fun.

  • JACKELINEC-ZDE
    4/30/2014 - 08:25 a.m.

    The revised SAT sounds like it would be more of a success for students taking it. The test makers are changing the test so it gives more real world problems that students can make a connection with. They are also putting more questions in the mathematics section that students will most likely see in college. The vocabulary portion of the test will also begin to include more words that the students recognize. These small changes will help improve SAT scores.

  • KALIANAM-ZDE
    4/30/2014 - 09:47 a.m.

    The new changes of the SAT seem much superior than the previous SAT. Notably, since the test has supplemented more global world problems and essays. Also, it is much more logical that they have taken away vocabulary words such as "punctilious" and used words that are used much more often in the classroom. A lot of the math exams are unconditionally irrelevant, so it is really excellent that the math portion will concentrate more on the areas that matter for college success.

  • brynnd
    4/30/2014 - 09:12 p.m.

    I think that the new SAT test will allow more students to be able to get into more colleges because of the lower testing score. I am lucky it will be out when I am a senior. Hopefully this will increase the amount of students going to college.

  • AnnaN-5
    5/02/2014 - 12:34 a.m.

    The new SAT exams are coming out in 2016 and are called the ACT exams. Real-world changes will be made and the essays are optional. Other changes will also be made like getting rid of the extra penalty for wrong answers. Many people favor the ACT because of the optional essay portion. The last update of the SAT was in 2005 and that was when analogy questions were taken off and was when the essay was added. I think that people feel like this will be easier but I'm sure that they are making the questions even harder. When I take the ACT I will take the essay because it think it will help get into a good college.

  • SAMANTHAB-ZDE
    5/04/2014 - 08:46 p.m.

    By influencing the the questions on the SAT to relate more to the real world and students' futures, it will cause students to become more motivated about schooling to come. They will begin to realize that everything they have been learning can relate to the future or to the past by being applied to the questions in the SAT. Another successful change is to make the essay section optional and by changing the words to ones that students would see in their classrooms and in the office. Also, by providing computer-based testing, the SAT makers are embracing the advance of technology. Computer-based testing can even lead toward an Eco-friendly education, by eliminating the need of paper.

  • kaylaVa
    5/06/2014 - 01:34 p.m.

    It seems to me that the SATS are getting easier. I honeslty don't agree with this because people have taken this test for a very long time and I don't think that there are that many problems with it and I just think that the schools should be forced to cover more stuff.

  • EmilyKne
    5/09/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    I know before the SAT's were extremely difficult and I am glad they are now easier. I hope they do not make them too easy though because our society should not be getting dumber.

  • JohnD-ZDE
    5/21/2014 - 03:38 p.m.

    The new SAT will be much more easy to take. But, it will require hard work and study time to pass. It will make a huge change in testing. Once, the students take the test they will be ready for college. The ACT motivated the College Board to change the SAT by make ACT want to change to computer-based testing.

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