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Revamping the SAT

The College Board recently announced that, come spring 2016, the SAT will be redesigned—full details to be released later this month. The goal of this dreaded test’s new version will be to evaluate students on problem-solving skills judged to be most important for college success.

Here at the The Scroll we believe that there is great value in making the SAT more practical for all students across the globe, especially in removing the most formulaic parts of the test. One of the eight key changes is that the one open-ended section of the test—the essay— will become optional, and be prompted by a passage rather than an obscure quote. Additionally, rather than testing obsolete vocabulary words that demand rote memorization, the new SAT will focus on vocabulary more pertinent in the real world. These changes, as well as an increasing portion of students opting for the ACT, seem to the Scroll Board a recognition by the public and by the College Board that not all students can be squeezed into the same box. Given the modern-day demand for creative thinkers both in college and in employment, we believe it is not in the nation’s, or in any school’s, interest to produce students who all think in the exact same manner.

But is the devaluation of students’ ability do the formulaic—to memorize—really in our best interests? If committing formulas, vocabulary and sentence structures to memory is so “trivial,” then why isn’t everybody scoring a 2400? Oftentimes, the commitment to memorize is half the battle and is often an indication of a prospective student’s drive.

But no matter what direction the content of the test takes in coming years, we believe the SAT and other standardized testing have value in providing a common point of reference for colleges when evaluating students from all different backgrounds and educations. We hope that the revamped SAT will result in a more equal testing ground for future generations.

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