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SAT gets major overhaul

Big changes are coming to the SAT and it’s good news for students.

Test-takers will no longer be penalized for wrong answers, a perfect score will once again be 1,600, the essay will be optional, vocabulary words will be more relevant and study materials will be free.

“These changes are sorely overdue,” said Chris Judge, owner of Sugarcreek Educational Concepts, which offers SAT preparation help.

They will take effect in 2016, the College Board announced this week.

The changes will mostly affect students and not colleges or universities, said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president of enrollment management and marketing at the University of Dayton.

UD, for example, considers the test as just one factor when admitting students. Kumarasamy said the university puts more weight on students’ high school grade point averages and the rigor of the classes they took.

Cedarville University uses the SAT or other standardized tests to help determine whether a student is ready for college because GPA policies can vary by state and by district

“The GPA plus a standardized test helps us understand even better if that student is ready for college level work,” said Amy Holderby, director of university admissions for Cedarville. The GPA, though, is the best indicator of whether a student will be successful at college, she said.

Judge said the vocabulary changes as a major benefit for students. vocabulary used in the test now is “almost inaccessible to some of the kids.”

The College Board said words will be more relevant. “‘SAT words’ will no longer be vocabulary students may not have heard before and are likely not to hear again. Instead, the SAT will focus on words that students will use consistently in college and beyond,” the group said.

Judge added that some schools are making the SAT and ACT optional to apply, but they are sometimes still important to qualify for scholarships.

He said he doesn’t expect the free test materials to hurt his business because many students seek to help to get the best score for scholarships and most students take the ACT.

“There’s always going to be that push to get the highest score possible,” he said.

The test will now last about three hours, with an extra 50 minutes for the optional essay. It will be narrowed to three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math, and the essay, according to the College Board.

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