Sophomores and Juniors rush to take “old” SAT in face of changes

A small minority of Dougherty sophomores and many juniors have moved up the traditional standardized testing timeframe to take the now “old” SAT, avoiding the major impending changes to the oft-hated exam.

At least 50 members of the class of 2018 have taken the old SAT, as well as much of the junior class.

While a viable option for juniors, who usually take either the SAT or ACT during their 11th grade,the old SAT is a risk for some sophomores. The class of 2018 is the last class that is able to use the old SAT and be recognized by colleges. UCs and CSUs initially announced that they would not accept the test for the current sophomore class, but the backlash was so intense that they eventually reversed their decision. Ivies and many other private and public institutions are still accepting old SAT scores for the sophomore class, Northwestern University being a notable exception.

The desire to shirk the new SAT is intense, but the reasons for this are difficult to discern,  considering that the new SAT has not yet been administered. The old SAT had very specific and idiosyncratic practices – vocab was esoteric (flotsam and lacuna come to mind as particularly ridiculous examples of words tested), grammar rules specific to only the test, making the test very difficult, but not at all in line with class curricula. Math often never superseded Algebra 2-levels of difficulty.

The new SAT, on the other hand, is in line with the Common Core standards and actual math curricula. Throughout 2015, the College Board used the variable sections on the old SAT as litmus tests for the new one. Having taken two throughout the year, the differences are jarring. The March 2015 reading variable section was easily identifiable as the new SAT: charts and graphs were asked to be analyzed, and students had to pair claims with evidence in two-question pairs. The December 2015 math variable was a similarly jarring experience, jilting the old SAT’s seemingly random, simple and leftfield questions for tough precalculus, including data analysis and complex factoring.

From these variables, it is apparent that the differences are major, and probably bode well; the questions focus much less on abstract reasoning and more on substantial knowledge and critical thinking.