New SAT Redux

<p>Boston Globe, Wednesday, March 9, 2005.
"For SAT takers, a new test."
"Essay is a small part of admission."</p>



<p>Jane Brown, Mt Holyoke's vice-president of enrollment:
Like the rest of the SAT, she said, the writing section is likely to be coachable,
putting poorer students at a disadvantage.</p>

<p>"We want to place the emphasis on the entire academic record and we're finding the kind of writing we ask for is a better indicator of students' writing skills."</p>

<p>My daughter is taking the new test this weekend (March 12) - any other parents' children kids taking it? Let's compare notes afterwards. Unfortunately, her practice tests show improvement in the writing and verbal but her math has stayed in the same range (much lower than the other two). Sigh. She is planning on taking it again in May. She is also going to do the ACT in June.</p>


<p>Going by what all the test companies say, Jane Brown is correct. </p>

<p>Richard Atkinson, former Pres of UC, made a lot of noise, with little effefct. The UC's already required the SATII Writing and the SATI the real net changes for Calif students is deleting analogies, (which aren't coachable at the last minute and which FairTest said minorities did ok on), and the addition of 3-5 Alg II problems. That, and made the test 4 hours. For Cal kids, much ado about nothing, IMO.</p>


<p>my S is/was planning on taking it, but since he did zero prep, I'm recommending he not waste his time.....I'll let you know how it turns out.</p>

<p>I am really wondering if the admissions' officers who take the time to babble about the SAT did actually spend any time reading the old and new test to understand the format and contents. The overall comments regarding the value of the new writing test seems to indicate the usual disconnect. </p>

<p>The writing test is HIGHLY predictable, but it has nothing to do with writing excellence at ANY level. The problem start with the difficulty in grading millions of essays in a very short amount of time. There are only two alternatives: using a computerized system or using an army of readers who follow very strict guidelines. It shouldn't surprise anyone that some of the strict guidelines require the readers to read the text ONE TIME and grade the essay based on that first impression. I am quite certain that this requirement won't impress many English professors. The readers are also instructed to look for a few "gimmicks" such as the use of a simile or the use of examples, which include REAL LIFE example. This means that students can INVENT any example that fits their arguments without fear. </p>

<p>Students will -and should- do everything possible to beat the system. They should not be blamed. The TCB is not to blame either: they are asked to develop a STANDARDIZED test that fits the schedule of high school students.<br>
The problem starts when schools attempt to use the SAT in ways that go beyond the scope of the SAT. The issue is that it requires time and effort to design a truly selective application. Some schools, like the University of Chigaco, take the time to design an application that contains specific -or quirky- essay prompts. Some other schools are still expecting students to show their skills in answering the asinine "Why do you want to attend Lucky U?". </p>

<p>As far as I am concerned, all the hoopla surrounding the new essay is just a bunch of baloney. The schools that value the essays correctly will continue to do so. The schools that asked students to write essays as a routine will continue to base their decision on the same criteria as before. The only difference is that a few MILLION students will have to spend more time on a excruciating and sterile requirement, and pay more for the privilege. </p>

<p>And for this, you can thank the UC bombastic genius!</p>

<p>carolyn, my S is also taking the SAT this Saturday. We'll see how it goes. In the practice tests he is having a lot of trouble with the new writing section. He just is not getting the multiple choice questions. I think that he is having problems even figuring out what he is doing wrong. His writing is much lower than Math or the Verbal (or whatever it's called now). After this test we will see if he needs to get an English tutor for the new writing section. I am a little worried.</p>

<p>My S seems to be doing better on the ACT practice tests. If the SAT goes as I think (unfortunately) I am thinking that he should concentrate on the ACT, it seems to work better to his strengths.</p>

<p>If anyone has any pointers on the new writing section, I'm game.</p>

<p>I note that a number of schools have announced that they are not going to consider the writing portion.</p>

<p>Carolyn, check your email!</p>

<p>My kids are taking it Saturday too.</p>

<p>My son is taking the SAT on Saturday. His prep was less then I had hoped but I have a hard time nagging with the Science Fair the following Saturday and working on his Eagle project for boy scouts. The latter has to be done by the end of next month. Writing is usually his forte but he doesn't do his best under pressure. I have also heard colleges saying that they may not consider the writing portion this year.</p>

<p>My son is taking it Saturday also. He took the ACT with writing last month to prepare. He thinks he is ready.</p>

<p>We are most concerned about the critical reading section. We'll see how he does in a few weeks.</p>

<p>BTW, are any of you bothered by the deadline for the May 12th test being before we get the results from this Saturday's test?</p>

<p>This test is too long for one sitting. You cannot expect the typical 16 & 17 year old to maintain the level of concentration they need for 4 hours. And every kid will be in the test room for over 4 hours if you include the test itself-the breaks between sections- and the time it takes the kids to get settled in. I just hope my d has some of her math sections before she has critical reading. She's been prepping through Kaplan, and says by the time she does her essay and a few reading sections, she's finding it too hard to concentrate on the math sections. I just signed her up for the ACT's in June. She seemed relieved-- as she is really hating this test. I would feel much more comfortable with the new SAT if they gave it over a 2 day period. It is way too much for most kids. As they referred to this test in Newsday- it should be called the SIT.</p>

<p>One of the biggest problems with prepping for this new exam is that it takes four hours to do each practice test. And if you don't do all of the practice sessions in one sitting, you are not getting a true test simulation.</p>

<p>We've found a mixed bag among the schools my daughter is looking at in terms of whether they'll consider the scores. Lewis & Clark said "nope, we'll just look at M and V" (Darn, writing continues to be my D's strong point) while Earlham, Goucher, and several others (escapes me at the moment) said they will indeed consider the writing score. So, it depends on the school. Even though schools are going to have access to the essays, I simply can't imagine that ANY school will have time to read through another essay with any sort of consistency. However, I suspect the ones that say they will use the writing section will consider the overall score as it does somewhat test grammar and proofreading skills.</p>

<p>As I said, my daughter has consistently been scoring pretty well on the writing section but dismally on the math section. Her math tutor helps quite a bit with classwork (which she needs) so they haven't had as much time as I would have liked to prep for the SAT. She begged me to take a prep class at a local university that a bunch of her friends were taking and it has been useless as far as I can tell. (I told her Xiggi said this was going to happen!) I'm just going to sit back and see how it goes on saturday and then we'll decide where to go from there. She will, as I said, give the ACT a go-round in June.</p>

<p>Eagledad - I noticed that May date sign up as well. D. will probably take it then again anyhow as she will do the ACT in June. The problem with the June SAT date is it is right after finals for my daughter - I can imagine how she'd feel about taking another test at that point!</p>

<p>S is taking the SAT on Saturday and has not prepped. He doesn't believe in prepping for these tests. He took the old test in January and did fairly well (not by the standards on THIS board, but fine, nonetheless). We'll see how Saturday goes, and maybe he'll be through with the SAT after this.</p>

<p>Isn't the June date also the same day as SAT2s?</p>

<p>My son is also taking the new SAT I on Saturday. He has studied lots for the Verbal and only some for the Math. He was scheduled to take the old SAT in January but based on great PSAT scores decided he liked the new version better. He also took the December SAT II Writing so that can count if Saturday's Writing score is low. He plans to take two other SAT IIs in May; June is right after the Prom and the date of an all State music practice. This is crazy! I don't know how these kids fit everything in.</p>

<p>With your indulgence, I'd like to add two quick comments. </p>

<p>Twinmom, it is really NOT necessary to take practice tests under exact testing conditions. It is actually much better to break down the test into small manageable parts. I recommend everyone to use the X-acto method when starting to prep for the test. I recommend to cut the book up and divide it in 80 -or 72- sections. It's your book after all! It is much easier to move small hills than huge mountains. In the same way, it is much easier to work for one hour instead of setting aside 5 hours to take a practice tests and ... analyze the results. If you worry about the stamina, just think about the marathon runners and HOW they prepare. They run very few full marathons but run smaller distances every day. If you worry about the boredom, try to present the SAT as a game that can be beat. Students who do well on the test will not be bored or face exhaustion. </p>

<p>MomofWildChild, I understand that a lot of students hate to prepare for the SAT. The offical Saturday testing rooms are, however, the last place where one should "practice". Nobody gets a brownie for taking the SAT unprepared or "unprepped" to use the lingo. Since the new test's format will be drastically different from the past, your son is probably wasting 4 hours and a few hard-earned dollars. I cannot stress enough that, unless your son is a natural test-taker, school knowledge won't do much good. The SAT is never a walk in the park, but attaching fifty pounds iron balls on your feet won't make the walk any easier. I hope he finds the time and inclination to look for a few practice tests, and see how well he does before driving to the testing place.</p>

<p>Xiggi, I agree with most of what you post, but I disagree here. My son is a great student and does well on tests- even standardized tests. He doesn't get 1500, however. He has strong opinions, and is simply not interested in prepping for these tests. As I said, the "old" SAT in January yielded a fine score. He is currently obsessed with reading the Wall Street every day, which he thinks is a better use of his time. He will also be a recruited athlete from a good prep school. I don't see how sitting for the Saturday test is at all a waste of time. He gets it out of the way, and if his score is good, he's through. If not, he can figure out what he wants to do for October. Believe it or not, outside our little world of CC, many students do not prep extensively for SATs. My D, a soph at Rice, had no idea that anyone prepped for SAT IIs, and she is managing just fine in college. The more I read of this BS, the more I support the "Just Say No" thing. S will also take ACT in June.</p>

<p>Another point- even if I had a kid who was more interested in prepping, since this test is a big unknown, I would suggest waiting to do extensive prep until this summer. The March, May and June tests will yield a lot of good prep-info. Yes, the format of this test is a lot different. Analogies are gone, which was S's weakest area. Math is more advanced, which is a good thing. The essay is up for grabs for everyone, in my opinion.</p>