Skip to main content
SAT changing its tune to the Common Core melody
MONDAY, JUNE 02, 2014 13:29 PM

The SAT has long been one of two standardized tests meant to measure college readiness (the ACT is the other popular option). However, The College Board (maker of the SAT) has realized it's time for a change. Most states (44) have now adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and The College Board wants its exam to reflect the content students learn in school.

The SAT and ACT tests have "become disconnected from the work of our high schools," David Coleman, president of The College Board, said in a statement. 

The College Board is working on content adjustments to ensure the exam is aligned with the Common Core guidelines. While the updated SAT isn't scheduled to be released until 2016, The College Board has released a side-by-side comparison between the new test and the Common Core.

Areas of change
According to Education Week, which has been covering the changes in SAT content very closely, the new exam will feature 10 areas of adjustment. Here's a look at some of those changes:

1. Citing evidence: The Common Core literacy standards require that students support their claims when writing. Essays, reports, etc., should directly cite evidence of a student's analysis by mentioning source documents. The new SAT will mirror this by having test takers cite their evidence in the essay portion of the exam. Prior to the changes, students didn't need to back up their claims with citeable facts. 

2. Calculators: The CCSS allow students to use calculators when appropriate, which is only some of the time. The old SAT permitted test takers to use a calculator during the entirety of the math portion of the exam. That will change - students will have to complete a section of the SAT without using a calculator. 

3. Source documents: Schools under the Common Core incorporate literacy into all subjects. The SAT will mirror that by providing source documents from numerous topics. 

4. Analyzing text: In class, students have to analyze complex texts in all of their classes. The same will go for the new SAT content, which will provide technical data to analyze.

5. Math coverage: In general, the CCSS focus in-depth on a small amount of topics rather than having students skim the surface on lots of content. The new SAT math section won't have as great a variety of concepts, but will ask that students understand each topic fully. 

Grades versus exams
Many experts have pointed out that high school grades are a better indicator of college and career readiness than standardized exams. Coleman even agreed with the sentiment. However, The College Board hopes its changes will provide an accurate assessment of how prepared students are for the next phase of their education.