The College Board, makers of the SAT and PSAT, has presented members of the Class of 2017 with obstacles that were completely unnecessary and unwarranted. A new SAT format is just the beginning of the challenges faced by students in the Class of 2017. For those frustrated, you can always sign up for the ACT at actstudent.org.
If you are taking AP, IB, or other very challenging high school courses, you should be planning to take SAT Subject Tests to impress college admissions committees; yet, many students have no clear strategy as to when to take SAT Subject Tests. You are not going to be one of those students after watching this video.
Taking and doing well on Advanced Placement Exams could earn you some college credits, but they shouldn’t influence the grade you earn in your AP Classes and they rarely are factored into college admissions decisions.
When registering for standardized tests and filling out college and university applications be ready to provide your high school’s CEEB code, which helps your counselor and admissions officers.
Is increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity really the university’s motivation in making this change? Or does it have a less altruistic reason for doing so, such as raising its standing in the all-important college rankings game?
This insightful piece by Stephen Burd is a must-read.
More in The Hechinger Report (8/26/15)
“For many of the same reasons that some high schools now allow multiple valedictorians, many are doing away with rank, making it secret or changing the system to allow multiple students to share the top spot. This has created a new problem for college admissions officers: How should class rank figure into a student’s application when so many students come from schools that no longer provide it?”
More: High schools are doing away with class rank. What does that mean for college admissions?, Washington Post (7/23/15)
More than ever students applying to college in the US are also looking to Canada for more college and university options. The same can be said of their Canadian counterparts. With this in mind, it’s important to review the major differences between the admissions process in the United States and Canada. While the following information is very valuable in general, please remember that specific colleges and universities may of course deviate from the general rule outlined below. Always remember to check with the college or universities on your final list to ensure that you are meeting their admissions criteria and meeting their priority deadlines. Good luck!
|Application Deadlines||Apply as soon as the applications are available online (in many cases December or January); deadlines vary by institution but are generally later than the US and typically on a rolling basis. Be careful to not apply to late, as Canadian schools don’t have the same May 1 reply by date as US schools and they typically take long to process applications||Deadlines vary by institution, but are generally earlier than Canada and most have specific deadlines including those for Early Action (non-binding) and Early Decision (binding).|
|Admissions Criteria – Academic Performance||Academic performance is the most important decision factor; requirements vary by institution and by competitive programs. Senior/junior year performance is crucial to many Canadian universities – most all will require first semester senior year grades (or predicted IB scores), so late bloomers can really benefit.||Academic performance is the most important decision factor for both private colleges and universities, with more weight given to rigorous, college-prep curricula. Most US universities will look at grades 9, 10, 11, and 12with more weight on senior/junior year performance. First semester senior year grades are required for admission, unless the student is applying Early Decision, Early Action, or early in the Rolling cycle.|
|Admissions Criteria – Other||Less emphasis on reference letters, essays, and extracurricular activities (most universities will not require this information for evaluation).||More emphasis on reference letters, essays, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated interest (especially at mid- and small-sized private colleges/universities).|
|Admissions Criteria – Testing||Some require SAT/ACT, and rarely SAT Subject Tests, but not all. Inquire with each college you are considering.||Most weigh SAT or ACT scores, and sometimes SAT Subject Tests. An increasing number of colleges are test optional (see fairtest.org).|
|Decisions||Decisions roll out from February to April, or even later.||Decisions can be rolling or with deadline schools no later than April 1. The uniform reply/deposit deadline is May 1.|
As U.S. universities search farther afield for international students, they are boosting not just their cash flow and their campus diversity, but also the likelihood of admissions fraud, experts say.
Some go so far as arguing that, “American Universities Are Addicted to Chinese Students” because of a new report estimates that 8,000 students from China were expelled in the 2013-4 school year.
More: Surge of Chinese Applicants Tests U.S. Colleges, WSJ.com (5/30/15)
“In 2005, the SAT changed because the University of California system threatened to stop using it. In 2016, it’s changing because the ACT is threatening to make it irrelevant. You’ll hear a raft of other reasons from College Board, but all it takes is a quick look at the changes to see that the SAT is becoming more like that ACT. ”
Dan Edmonds at Forbes makes a concise and convincing case that taking the new SAT in March 2016 may be a bad idea.
More: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take the New SAT, Forbes.com (4/20/15)
The CollegeBoard, the fine folks behind the SAT, both the old and new versions, has released an informative little comparison chart for those looking to better understand how the new SAT will be different from the current SAT. Remember, the first time you can take the official new SAT and have it count will be in March 2016. The last administration of the SAT in its current format will be January of 2016.
So, member of the class of 2016, don’t even worry about the new SAT; just focus on doing the best you can on the current one or the ACT+Writing. For those in the Class of 2017 or later, your way forward is a bit more murky.
For months we have advised all of our students to study hard for the ACT+Writing since it’s the known quantity, and frankly one that we have deemed easier than the SAT for years. Yet, as more information comes about about the new SAT, we feel confident in saying that it will aim to be even easier than the current ACT+Writing. Thus, if you are member of the Class of 2017, feel free to take the current SAT if you like, but we feel nine times out of ten, you will be just fine waiting for the new SAT or sticking to the ACT.
Without further ado, here are the big differences between the current SAT and brand-spanking new version that comes out just before the Ides of March 2016:
|Compare the current SAT to the redesigned SAT to see what’s changing.|
|Current SAT||Redesigned SAT|
|Reading and writing sections do not require students to cite evidence. Students select answers to demonstrate their understanding of texts but are not asked to support their answers.||Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.|
|Source documents do not represent a wide range of academic disciplines. While many different types of text might appear on any SAT, there is no requirement that students encounter scientific or historical sources.||Source documents originate from a wide range of academic disciplines. On every SAT, students will encounter source texts from science, history, and social studies, analyzing them the way they would in those classes.|
|Vocabulary focused on words that are sometimes obscure and not widely used in college and career. These words, while interesting and useful in specific instances, often lack broad utility in varied disciplines and contexts.||Vocabulary focused on words that are widely used in college and career. The exam will focus on words such as synthesis and empirical whose specific meaning depends on the context.|
|The essay measures students’ ability to construct an argument based on their background and experiences. Since students are not given source material, there is no way to verify the accuracy of their argument or examples.||The essay measures students’ ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience. Responses will be evaluated based on the strength of the analysis as well as the coherence of the writing.|
|Math section samples content from a wide range of high school-level math. There are often only one or two questions on each topic and students need to cover a great deal of math to be prepared for all topics.||Math section draws from fewer topics that evidence shows most contribute to student readiness for college and career training. Students can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they will be assessed.|
|Calculator permitted for full math section. It is difficult to assess students’ sense of numbers, their fluency in calculation, and their ability understand concepts rather than plug in the answers.||Calculator permitted on certain portions of the math section. The calculator can be used where most appropriate, but the no-calculator section allows greater assessment of students’ understanding, fluency, and technique.|
|Reading and writing does not require data analysis. The reading and writing section does not often include passages from science and social studies with graphs and tables; questions rarely require students to both read text and analyze data.||Students asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two. Students will show the work they do throughout their classes by reading science articles and historical and social studies sources.|
|Source documents drawn from texts that are not widely recognized and publicly available. Students have no idea before they take the test what the reading passages will be about.||Each exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation. Students read from either a founding document such as the Declaration of Independence or from the conversation they inspire in the United States and around the world, such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or King’s” I Have a Dream” speech.|
|Scoring deducts points for incorrect answers. Students get ¼ point deducted for incorrect answers; no points deducted for omitted answers.||Scoring does not deduct points for incorrect answers (rights-only scoring). Students are encouraged to select the best answer to every question.|
|Essay is required.||Essay is optional.|
|Score scale of 2400.||Score scale of 1600 with separate score for Essay.|
|SAT available on paper only.||SAT available in paper and digital forms.|