“While it remains to be seen whether students will find the redesigned SAT to be easier or more difficult than the ‘old’ version, one thing hasn't changed: preparation is essential" -- Pat Cuneo, Director of Academic Affairs
As college gets closer and closer, the of the SAT anxiety spikes. For those taking the new SAT in March, we are going to alleviate some of that pressure. For those wondering about all the upcoming changes, we talked to Mr. Pat Cuneo to help clear up some of the smoke that is surrounding this monster of a test.
First, he says, you should know this: The test is completely different! There is no longer any penalty for wrong answers. The advanced “SAT words” are now replaced with much simpler vocabulary. The new SAT will consist of two eight hundred point sections making for a perfect score being a 1600 compared to that of the old SAT, which was a 2400. The essay is now optional, but it is STRONGLY encouraged because some colleges will still require it (to get more information on this, visit the college’s website and look under admission requirements). Also, the essay is now an argumentative essay based on a given passage, where previously it was an opinion essay. All of these changes made by the College Board are geared toward making the test more accessible for all college bound students and to reflect the essential skills they feel are important in college.
Now that you know about the changes, how can you, as a perspective college student, prepare to make the score to get into the college of your dreams? The best resource is right at our fingertips. Khan Academy has worked directly with the College Board through this transition, and has made an online test-prep for the new SAT (they also have one for the old one). This is a free and very beneficial source.
At Athens Academy you will also take the PSAT in tenth and eleventh grades, which is great practice for the complete SAT experience, as in timing, bubbling, atmosphere, and question type. There are also several companies around Athens that tutor student individually for the SAT (although none of these Athens Academy endorses they are still good resources). Even though it is good to prepare, don’t go overboard because this creates unnecessary anxiety. Remember, there are several other pieces that go into the college admission process.
Some people also do not understand the differences from the SAT and the ACT. The majority of colleges will take either, depending on which one you scored higher on. Mr. Cuneo suggest that students take both because they do give them more opportunities to achieve better scores. The ACT is also more slanted towards reading comprehension; the SAT, on the other hand, has a larger math section.
When taking the SAT it is good to remember that there is still a sociological aspect, as with any test. However, it is important to not be intimidated by the test -- it is important to stay confident. Mr. Cuneo advises that we see the test as a game that can be won or a puzzle that can be solved. It is good to take the SAT multiple times. However, there is a point at which you have to realize that you’ve hit your best score.
There are still several on-campus resources we can use to prepare further. If you ever have any questions Athens Academy has a fantastic guidance staff that can help, so it is important you take advantage of that resource as well!
Cuneo reinforces the idea that students need to plan ahead. “While it remains to be seen whether students will find the redesigned SAT to be easier or more difficult than the ‘old’ version,” he says, “one thing hasn't changed: preparation is essential. Being familiar with the format, directions, time restraints, scoring, and even a few test-taking strategies can make a significant difference not only in terms of confidence, but also in scores.” Time to get ready!