College Board Announces Major Changes to SAT Test

Come spring of 2016, the SAT exam will undergo some serious changes in the hopes of providing students with more opportunities to succeed on the exam, and to better reflect their ability to succeed at a college or university.  

The changes include an optional writing section, a new grading system and a return to the 1600 point scale.

However, Ramapo does not believe the redesign will have a major effect on their admission process because it is only one of many determining factors when considering a candidate's application.

"We do not anticipate the recent changes in the SAT to have a major impact on applications and the candidate review process. The new test goes into effect in the spring of 2016 and standardized tests are but one element used in the admissions selection process at Ramapo College," said Stephen Hudik, assistant vice president of communications and public relations.

In fact, Hudik said that Ramapo considers an applicant's course work and grades in high school to be a better reflection of how that student will perform in college.

"For us, a student's high school grade point average and the rigor of course work is often a more important indicator of how an individual may perform in college," said Hudik. "Another important factor that we look at closely is each applicant's extracurricular activities because this helps us to gain insight into a candidate's ability to succeed and contribute to Ramapo College academically and socially."

The College Board announced several changes to the SAT test, many of them reversing the changes that were put into effect by the 2005 redesign.

For instance, by the spring of 2016, the writing section will be optional and graded separately from the SAT, returning the SAT to the 1600 point scale, as opposed to its current 2400 point scale.

This change does not make as much of a difference to the admissions process at Ramapo as it may to other colleges and universities.

"It is important to note that Ramapo College has always remained on the 1600 point scale," said Hudik. "We do not and have not considered the writing portion of the SAT in the admissions decision."

The section that the most recent Ramapo incoming class scored the lowest on was indeed writing, with an average score of 538. The average score of the incoming fall 2013 class on the reading section was 539, while the average score on the math section was 558.

But the writing section is not the only change to the standardized test.

One of the other major changes is an alteration in the way the SAT is graded. The test will no longer subtract points for incorrect answers, but will instead add points for correct answers.

The test will also be available electronically, as opposed to just print, and will use easier vocabulary; words that The College Board feels will be used consistently during a student's college career.

These changes are intended to better represent high schools across the United States, as well as better portray a prospective college student's undergraduate capabilities.

Although current Ramapo students will not be affected by the changes to the SATs, since they have been through the process, they have mixed feelings on whether or not the changes are an improvement.

"I think the writing section should definitely not be optional because employers really stress the need for writing and communication skills in the work force," said Megan McLeod, a junior. "Having high school kids prepare an essay for the SATs gives them more practice and allows them to get the proper feedback they need to let them know if writing is an area they need to improve on."

However, junior Jessica Ross believes that eliminating the writing portion may be positive for future test takers.

"I think that some of these changes can relieve a lot of stress on high school students," said Ross. "By making the writing section optional, students don't have to stress over a decent portion of the test and by not deducting points for wrong answers, students might feel more comfortable with their answers."

Although the changes will not take place for two years, Ramapo's admissions office will take the initiative as needed.

"Once more information about the new grading system becomes available and the new grading scale is evaluated, we will make any further adjustments to the review process if needed," said Hudik.