The New SAT and PARCC: Questions and Answers about the New Exams Sweeping Across America

America’s next generation of tests is about to sweep across the land. The SAT is in the early stages of a redesign, while states across the country are already adopting the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Careers) as their end-of-year and graduation tests. In this blog, I will focus on changes to the SAT Writing section.

Why is the SAT Changing:

As with many tests, the SAT has changed many times over the years.  Just as any business must do, the College Board is adjusting to the reality that its competition is overtaking it.  In 2010, ACT overtook SAT and the most popular test in America.

How is the SAT Changing?

Even the college board does not know the answer to this question, but it is our belief that critical reading and writing elements will be expanded. Here are some statements from College Board President David Coleman that tip the hand on changes to the new SAT:

“We will develop an assessment that mirrors the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college. An improved SAT will strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career.”

And this:

“I have a problem with the SAT writing. So if you look at the way the SAT assessment is designed, when you write an essay even if it’s an opinion piece, there’s no source information given to you. So in other words, you write like what your opinion is on a subject, but there’s no fact on the table. So a friend of mine tutors in Hong Kong, and she was asked by her Hong Kong students, where do you get the examples for the essay? She said, you know, it’s the American way, you make them up,” Coleman said. “Now I’m all for creativity and innovation, but I don’t think that’s quite the creativity we want to inspire in a generation of youth. That is, if writing is to be ready for the demands of career and college, it must be precise, it must be accurate, it must draw upon evidence.”

So among other things, students must be ready to pull specific information from a reading source, analyze and respond.

Now here is a description of the GRE

  • Verbal Reasoning
    Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.
  • Quantitative Reasoning
    Measures problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.
  • Analytical Writing
    Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.
    Our early conclusion: The New SAT will mirror elements from the GRE

Time will tell. We will continue to report as new evidence and information becomes available.