Blair juniors take field test of new SAT

March 14, 2003, midnight | By Annie Peirce | 17 years, 10 months ago

Five classes of junior Blair students participated in a field test to evaluate a new form of the SAT Monday, March 17. If approved, the new form of the SAT test will be introduced in March 2005. The current test has been given for the past 76 years, and trustees of the College Board hope the new test will be better aligned with current high school curriculum.

The new test will have three parts: critical reading, mathematics and writing as well as a different form of answer sheet. The first two parts will be similar to the sections currently used in the test and the writing section will be similar to the form used in the current SAT II Writing test.

Students' scores on the field test will not be available to colleges because the test is a pilot. As an incentive for active student participation, says English teacher Normon Stant, any student whose scores are equal to or above the score they achieved on the PSAT will be eligible for a $100 check from the College Board. Two hundred and fifty checks will be issued to students nationwide for a total of $25,000. Stant does not know how many nationwide high schools are participating, so will not guess the likelihood a Blair student will receive one of the checks.

Five English classes of junior Blair students will take three different forms of the test. The students and classes were chosen to give an accurate cross-section of students' abilities and levels of expertise, says Stant. Of the five classes participating, there is one CAP/AP class, two honors classes, one regular-level class, and one "off-level" class. Within each class, Stant has randomly assigned each student to one of the three different forms of the field test. Stant hopes that the range of classes will cover every English level from "highest to lowest."

College Board President Gaston Caperton said in a June 2002 College Board press release that the current SAT test will be changed to better represent current high school curricula. "The current SAT I is the most rigorously and well-researched test in the world, and the new SAT I will only improve the test's current strengths by placing the highest possible emphasis on the most important college success skills - reading and mathematics, and, now, writing," said Caperton.

The critical reading part in the new test will include a new type of reading passages according to a handout issued to participating students called "Preparation for the New SAT Field Trial Test." The current test has reading passages ranging from 400 to 850 words with nonfiction selections from humanities, social studies, and natural sciences, as well as fiction selections. Analogies are also sometimes included. The new test will have a section of "paragraph reading" with passages about 100 words long, followed by two questions just like the ones currently used on the longer reading passages. Students may also be asked four questions comparing two paragraphs (about 200 words total). These new readings will replace the current analogies section.

The mathematics section will also have several changes. The new mathematics questions will be in one of three formats: multiple choice, quantitative comparison, and student-produced response. The test will also include more advanced mathematics topics: sequences involving exponential growth, sets (union, intersection, elements), absolute value, radical equations, manipulation with integers and rational exponents, direct and indirect variation, function notation and evaluation, concepts of domain and range, quadratic functions, properties of tangent lines, coordinate geometry, quantitative behavior of graphs and functions, transformations, data interpretation and geometric probability.

The new writing section will be based on the current SAT II Writing test. Students could be asked to answer multiple-choice questions on grammar, to write an essay responding to a prompt, or to do both. The multiple-choice questions will test students' ability to identify sentence errors, improve sentences or improve paragraphs. To accommodate for this extra section, the answer sheet for the test will be expanded to include room for a survey and/or an essay question. The test will also include a space for providing background information about course-taking experience.

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Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »

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