New SAT Moves Toward Testing Analytic Ability

The New York Times (4/16, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports that the revised SAT’s vocabulary questions “will no longer include obscure words.” Instead, the test will focus on what the College Board describes as “high utility” words that appear in multiple contexts across disciplines. The new test will also require students to interpret graphs for “analyzing science and social science texts.” College officials praised the changes which tested students on what they should be learning in high school, but Christoph Guttentag, Duke University’s admissions director, added that “we’ll still have to examine the evidence to see if there’s any change in the predictive validity within our context.” Many admissions officials questioned the College Board’s claims that the new tests would eliminate the gap between high and low income students’ scores.

        The Washington Post (4/15, Anderson) reports that the new SAT will focus on “extended thinking.” According to Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board. Additionally, there will be only four possible responses to the multiple choice questions and there will no longer be a penalty for guessing. The revisions are also designed to align the test with concepts that the Common Core seeks to teach. Both articles contain additional details about the test format. The Los Angeles Times (4/16) also covers this story.