Since their start in 1933, the SATs have become one of the most important exams for college bound high school students. The tests included a wide vocabulary, a very important essay, and the infamous penalty for wrong answers. But now, the college board, in all its wisdom, has decided to remake the SATs, which are to be administered in Spring 2016.
I can’t be the only one who is angry at this. How can the college board do this to an entire group of high schoolers? The 1600 point format, which was used up until 2005, was dropped in favor of the new 2400 format, which most of us will be taking. But now they’ve gone and switched back to the old point scoring, which essentially means that they made the children from 2006 to 2015 work way too hard. What’s worse is the removal of the penalty for wrong answers. This feature alone has earned the SATs infamy from Boston to Los Angeles, and it’s going to be gone soon, just not for us. Why did they even bother to tell us so early? America’s entire class of 2016 is being cheated out of a better test grade.
Another new addition is the optional essay. You heard me, optional. Meaning that it isn’t required anymore. Students can take the math and English sections and just skip the whole essay. This also goes hand in hand with the new change of using “relevant words”. That means you won’t have to stay up all night and pore over an 18th century dictionary, in case the college board decides to ask you what a polonaise is. Instead, the words will be presented in specific contexts that change the definition of the word. The SAT website gallantly describes this change so that students will “no longer use flashcards to memorize obscure words”. Except the class of 2016; we’ll be the last ones to do this.
The worst offence by far is the removal of the penalty. Ever since middle school, students were told of a huge, important test that was so hard that you lost points for every question you got wrong. Sadly, the people who told us this were right. When I take my SATs, I will lose one fourth of a point for every incorrect answer. According to college officials, this method was used to “weed out any points you might gain from randomly guessing.” For example, if time was running out, and you absolutely had to guess answer, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. The method of “any answer is better than no answer” doesn’t apply to the SAT; it is a different breed of beast.
My last grievance is with how this change was presented by the college board. Let us not forget that the class of 2016 will be the last class to take the current test. So why bother announcing it now? Why rub it in our faces that the class after us will have it easier? It just seems cruel, like taunting a dog with food, only to pop it in your own mouth instead. The SAT website presents their new test in a revolutionary fashion, and simply sweeps us under the rug. On another note, the removal of the penalty is used so that students are encouraged “to give the best answer they have to every problem,” according to the college board. Does this mean that my best answer won’t matter? In fact, when I take the SATs, nobody will care about my best answer, they’ll actually reprimand me for having the audacity to try and give my best answer.This is another instance where American education has ignored the feelings of the students. They just assume that the class of 2016 will notice that the classes immediately after it will be given an easier exam, and not feel cheated. I do feel cheated. I think this change is unfair to us, as well as every generation before us that had to kneel before the mighty SATs.