Cam High students take on new SAT

The redesigned SAT test was launched across the United States on March 5, and at a testing center located at Cam High, a group of over 100 students from Cam High and other local schools participated in the first administration of the new exam.

The SAT redesign was announced in early 2014 and is only the second major change to the exam in the last sixty three years. The first major change to the test occurred in 2005, when a grammar and writing based section was added to the overall scoring of the test.

The goal of the new design is to more closely align with the Common Core teaching styles that have swept across the United States in recent years. Common Core standards focus on students thinking critically and intelligently to solve problems, and including more project-based learning within the classroom.

According to Cam High English teacher Mrs. Catherine Robey, who has proctored the SAT test for over fourteen years, the recent changes to the exam have not adversely affected the administration of the exam. “The main difference in the new test overall was that there are fewer sections on the test now, but they are longer, especially section one, which runs almost an hour,” said Robey.

Significant changes to the test include the eradication of the one-fourth of a point penalty for wrong answers, a return to the original scoring of 400-1600, and most notably, the elimination of the required essay section. While many students still opt to take the essay portion of the SAT, the traditionally required writing element of the test is no longer a required aspect of the SAT test. Additionally, students have the ability to opt out of the essay on the day of the test, as well as add the essay to their exam, provided there are enough materials for all of the students already enrolled in essay section.

However, Robey said that the newly offered ability to opt in or out of the essay section may present significant problems for both students and administrators on the day of the exam. “[Educational Testing Service] ships parceled amounts of each test, so this could be a problem if a tester wants to opt in or out of the essay section. In my opinion, testers would be wise to make sure they’re signed up for exactly the test version they need.”

According to Robey,  over seventy percent of the students who took the exam on March 5 chose to take the essay portion as well.

Many Cam High students utilized the launch of the redesigned exam to take the test for the first time, including juniors Ellie Han and Naomi Ocampo, who also both chose to take the essay portion of the exam. “It was my first time taking the SAT,” said Ocampo. “I didn’t really prepare for it too much. I took some practice exams online, but that’s about it.”

Many students who took the exam noted the unusually strict policies the faculty upheld during the administration of the test. “It was definitely very, very strict, especially with phones.” said Han. “I felt kind of rushed during the breaks [as well]. It’s definitely more rushed than the AP test administration.”

The next administration of the SAT will take place on May 7 of this year. The issuing of the exam will be only the second time the new version is available to students. Students are required to sign up for the exam before the April 8 deadline.