How to Survive the New SAT; Standardized Tests: Goodbye Analogies. but Get Ready for Grammar, Harder Math and Writing an Essay

By Rubin, Richard | Newsweek, August 23, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

How to Survive the New SAT; Standardized Tests: Goodbye Analogies. but Get Ready for Grammar, Harder Math and Writing an Essay


Rubin, Richard, Newsweek


Byline: Richard Rubin

Maybe they should just call it the SIT. Because that's what students will do when the new SAT debuts in March: sit through a new grammar section, sit through a new write-your-own-essay section and sit through an already grueling test that's 25 percent longer. The college-entrance exam--three hours and 45 minutes in all--will test the patience of a generation hooked on videogames and instant messaging. The new SAT will require perseverance, and it will require thinking in whole paragraphs.

Standardized tests are a fact of life for high-school students, all the more so for the ones headed off for four years of further education. While all colleges profess to evaluate applicants based, of course, on their unique attributes, sheer volume requires most schools to rely on standardized tests to create a baseline: in theory, the SAT score of the city kid in Pittsburgh can be compared with that of the lad raised on a farm in Iowa. With applications skyrocketing at so many colleges, especially the most selective, test scores become even more attractive barometers.

All that puts preternatural pressure on high-school students. And in recent years it's led to boom times for test-prep companies (like Kaplan and the Princeton Review), as well as tutors and trade publishers. The new SAT will only dial up the stress factor. Attacking the test has long been in vogue. Among the criticisms: it's culturally biased and unfair to students at lower socioeconomic levels, and answering the questions correctly doesn't really correlate to college success.

In response, the College Board (which owns the test) and the Educational Testing Service (which writes it) agreed to modifications. The new SAT may now be more like the other big standardized test, the ACT Assessment. Most prevalent in the Midwest, the ACT aims more at mastery of curriculum than at reasoning. In the long run, it may well be that the SAT becomes more predictive, but for this year the SAT will be brand new, and nobody likes being a guinea pig.

What should students do? Experts say it's key to be familiar with any test's format. The new one includes the 25-minute essay, higher-level math and multiple-choice questions on grammar. The grammar section will look like an editing test. If you don't know that the 10 items or less sign in the market should be 10 items or fewer, start studying; some tutors are recommending books designed to teach English to foreigners. What won't be on the test are quantitative comparisons, a confusing format for math questions that asked students to measure results from two columns against each other. Also gone is the most notorious part of the verbal section: analogies are to the new SAT what dinosaurs are to the earth.

Why change the test? Blame California. The University of California system is one of the SAT's biggest customers. In 2001 the then president, Richard Atkinson, talked about dropping the test as an admissions requirement because, he said, the overreliance of colleges on the SAT caused students to focus on test preparation rather than knowledge. Instead he wanted a test that focused on high-school subjects. The College Board listened. During the last major revision, in 1994, test designers thought about adding an essay, but they lacked the technology to allow graders to score thousands of essays quickly, says Chiara Coletti, the board's vice president of communications and public affairs. The graders (mostly high-school and college English teachers) will receive essays electronically. "What [Atkinson] did was hurry us up, probably by a couple of years," Coletti says. She hopes the test will create a similar hurrying-up at high schools and middle schools that don't emphasize writing enough. Teaching to the test, she argues, wouldn't be a bad thing.

Will the changes affect perceptions about private tutoring? The College Board and test-prep companies have endlessly debated the extent to which coaching helps.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How to Survive the New SAT; Standardized Tests: Goodbye Analogies. but Get Ready for Grammar, Harder Math and Writing an Essay
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.