Today, College Board announced major changes to the content and construct of the SAT suite of assessments. These changes do NOT impact current high school graduating classes of 2023 and 2024, but they WILL impact the class of 2025 (current freshmen) by spring of 2024. Here’s what you need to know: The SAT Will Become Adaptive The SAT will become adaptive, like NWEA’s current MAP (Measurement of Academic Progress) test or two sections of the GRE, that is, each answer determines future questions the student sees. Each test section (Reading, Writing, and Math) will be divided into two parts called modules. Students will answer a set of questions in the first module before moving on to the second module; the second module depends on the student’s performance on the first module. Students can preview the application used for the exam here. The application includes the ability for students to flag any questions they want to come back to later, as well as access to an on-screen graphing calculator and a countdown clock. Accommodations will still be available for the digital format. The SAT Will Become Digital The SAT is moving to a 100% digital format. The test will be taken on a laptop or tablet, and students will be able to use their own device or a device from their school. College Board has also committed to providing test day devices to students without access on their own. The test is not an at-home test; it will still be given at school and national test centers. Should there be connectivity or device issues, the test will pause and restart when the student can get back online (automatically saving their work). The College Board is fully transitioning to digital tests, so the pencil and paper version will no longer be available once the digital version is being administered. That means, starting in spring 2024, all students will take the digital version both on national test dates and as part of SAT School Day. Digital tests are more secure, allowing each student to receive a unique test form. The Timeline for Revision The new digital SAT will be administered internationally starting in March 2023, but not in the United States until a year later in Spring 2024. This means that students in the high school class of 2025 (current freshmen) will be the first to take the digital SAT in spring of their junior year. The PSAT 8/9, and PSAT NMSQT will be administered starting in fall 2023, so the class of 2025 will have exposure to that test if they take the PSAT NMSQT in fall of their junior year. The Content & Structure College Board is highlighting that the content will still largely be the same as it is now and will continue to assess reading, writing, and math skills. However, there are some key changes to the content: The test will be one hour shorter, moving to two hours from its current three-hour administration. The reading section is undergoing [...]
We know that a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is the most influential driver in the college admissions process. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) State of College Admission 2019 report, the top 3 most important factors in admissions decisions all relate to academic performance in school: However, we also know that GPA is not standardized, and various methodologies are used to calculate it, so admissions officers like University of Virginia admissions dean Jeannine Lalonde, aka DeanJ, make it clear that important context is required to truly understand and interpret GPA. So, what context matters most? For one, rigor. Admissions officers want to see that—regardless of the school’s curricular or grading system—the student has taken the most challenging courses available. But there’s another factor too, a lesson obvious--but very important--one: growth over time. As parents and/or educators of adolescents, we accept one truth universally acknowledged: adolescents are imperfect beings rapidly developing skills—both academic & social-emotional. Admissions officers realize this too, and it’s even reflected in admissions policy, like University of California schools policy of omitting freshmen year grades when calculating high school GPA. The value of a student’s GPA is that it demonstrates academic performance over time (not just in one isolated moment), so you look for a trend, a positive trajectory of growth & improvement in performance. In particular, you want to see where the student is trending recently, as the student approaches college readiness and entrance. In a recent interview, Jeffrey Selingo, who spent a year in three different colleges' admissions offices when reporting for his book Who Gets In and Why, explains the importance of performance trend: "Admissions officers are looking for grades that are either consistently good throughout high school or on a steady rise from the start. What concerns them is a downward trend or where grades are all over the place." As college admissions policies increasingly shift towards a “holistic” review, that is, one which seeks to be less reductive and more inclusive of context, admissions officers are reading for a narrative of the student’s development. It’s an Aristotelian exercise of sorts: reading for potential, imagining the completed sculpture already present in the marble block. In all of this, there is one important message for students, especially as they enter a new year and a new academic term: grades tell a story, and the student is the author of that academic narrative. Make it one of steady rise, of consistent growth predictive of something wonderful developing rapidly—and recently—out of that marble block, something that others become eager to see.