Thursday, March 06, 2014

College Board to drop SAT essay, offer free study material, pay some college application fees

Students stressed about taking the SAT can relax a little. Beginning in 2016, the test, which added a timed essay in 2006, will drop that requirement, making the essay optional, and will switch up vocabulary, replacing more complicated words with ones more commonly used in college and the workplace, Nick Anderson reports for The Washington Post. The test will also return to a 1600-point format instead of the 2400-point format used since 2006.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing said scores have dropped by an average score of 20 points since the essay was added, and the College Board said only 43 percent of students who took the test in 2013 received a high enough grade to likely earn A's and B's in college, Adrienne Lu reports for Stateline.

Critics say the changes won't make much difference "in part because the test’s scores historically have correlated with family income," Anderson writes. But the College Board said it has plans to alleviate that problem, saying it will offer new test-preparation tutorials for free online, as an alternative to the pricey ones students purchase from private companies. They also said they "will deliver four college application fee waivers to each test-taker meeting income eligibility requirements, allowing them to apply to schools for free." Those steps could especially help rural students. (Read more)

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