The SAT and ACT®, the high-stakes admissions exams taken by millions of aspiring college students each year, will both look very different in two years -- and that’s welcome news to college admissions officers. According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey* of college admissions officers from 422 top schools across the country, 72% agree that “the SAT should be changed” -- which aligns with the College Board’s plan to overhaul the test in 2015. Though the SAT maker hasn’t provided many specifics about the planned changes, the announced intent is to better align the exam with what students learn in the classroom to achieve academic excellence. Test takers can also expect changes to the Writing section, where mastery of facts will be more prominent.
College admissions officers surveyed weren’t shy about sounding off on what they thought needed to be changed about the SAT, which included:
- Being more sensitive to perceived socioeconomic and cultural biases
- Revamping, making optional or even eliminating the Writing section
- Making the SAT’s content more reflective of high school curriculum
While admissions officers support revising the SAT, students are more ambivalent. In a separate Kaplan survey of SAT takers in March, only 39% of students said the exam should change, while 35% opted for no change; remaining survey respondents were unsure. The last time the SAT saw a major revamp was in 2005 when the Writing Section was added, bringing the scoring scale up to 2400 from 1600.
Admissions officers are more comfortable with the current ACT, with 76% saying the ACT should not change, at least from a content perspective; the vast majority (87%) agree with the test maker’s decision to change the ACT to a computer-based format in 2015.
“Aspiring college students and their parents will have much to learn and process over the next two years as both the SAT and ACT fundamentally change,” said Seppy Basili, vice president of K-12 and college admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “Key things to consider: exams are rarely easier after a major change, and few teens have ever taken a computer-based test that is three hours long. We’ll be tracking the changes closely and update our own curriculum accordingly to ensure students are prepared.”