Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 12, 2014

Another View: Real-world changes for admission test

In the realm of education, the Scholastic Aptitude Test has something of a make-or-break reputation.

That’s because a student’s SAT results — or those of its counterpart, the ACT — are a major factor in the admissions decisions by colleges. While grades, interests and other concerns are part of the mix, we think it’s safe to say that for many students, the SAT may be the most important test they ever take.

So when the College Board, the organization that oversees and produces the SAT, announces major changes to the test, people take notice. And so it was ... when the latest revisions to the college entrance exam were outlined.

Perhaps most significant was the revelation that the essay portion of the SAT will now be optional. Another major shift will be the fact wrong answers on the test won’t result in the taking away of points on the overall score.

But there is much more to the SAT revisions, and most appear to be designed to have the test measure skills and abilities that count in the real world. For instance, in the vocabulary section, outdated terms — such as “prevaricator” and “sagacious” — will no longer be on the test. Instead, students will see words they are more likely to encounter, including “synthesis” and “empirical.”

We suppose that sort of change makes sense, just so long as “twerking” and “photobomb” don’t show up on the SAT.

On the math portion of the new SAT, students will be able to use calculators on only some sections. And again, the focus of the test is being reshaped so students will be measured in math areas they are most likely to encounter in the real world or future workplaces.

In short, the goal of the revamped SAT is to make it more practical and the results more applicable to what young people will encounter in their lives. We’ll buy that.

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