As parents, we remember the old SAT that we took in high school. Two sections, six hours, torture for even the most confident. You may know that the SAT is now different, but here is an explanation of what has changed, and why.

The SAT test, which was under fire with accusations of not reflecting the actual skills students learn in the classroom and favoring the “coaching” available to privileged students, was formerly comprised of two sections- verbal and math. With the new changed, a third section was added – a writing section. In addition, the intimidating analogy and quantitative comparison sections were officially kicked to the curb.

What would cause such a change to tradition? Believe it or not, complaints – not from students – but from the SAT’s number one customer, the University of California, triggered the revisions. Richard Atkinson, president of the 170,000 student UC system, questioned the value of the SAT and proposed dropping it from admissions requirements. Atkinson welcomed the changes as a step towards measuring what students actually learn from K-12. He felt the new SAT will “encourage students to take challenging courses in high school, knowing their efforts will be reflected in the scores.” Changes to the exam included:

An additional writing section:
Students are given 25 minutes to compose a persuasive essay on a topic provided for them. Scores are based on grammar, organization and structure. An example persuasive topic might be “Novelty is too often mistaken for progress.” Students would be expected to write a persuasive argument for or against this statement. The writing sample will be judged by two readers and given a score between 200-800 points, creating a new highest possible score of 2400 on the SAT test. The essay will also
be posted on the internet, making it accessible to college admissions officials.

The Verbal section has been renamed “Critical Reading”:
The section includes shorter passages that tests students’ comprehension of a wider variety of literary genres.

Quantitative comparisons were omitted:
to include more Algebra II and advanced math test items.

Peggy Thomas, Director for Club Z! In-home Tutoring, Peachtree City, Georgia, advises students to take challenging courses in high school and to perform well in them. “It is the mastery of higher level reading, writing, and mathematics – not just test-taking tricks – that result in a competitive score on the new SAT test and admission into the college of a student’s choice.”

For students who have mastered the skills but still feel anxiety about taking the SAT, there is help available. Students can invest in test preparation software, books, classes, or customized one-on-one coaching from a qualified SAT tutor. Club Z! tutors will travel to the home and work around students’ busy work, sports, and school schedules to provide individual test preparation.

More importantly, remember that when it comes to opening the doors of your future, the best advice is to start early!

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