As reported by Politico.
The the last administration of the old SAT is next week, and starting in March, students will take the revamped test, which does away with obscure vocabulary words and includes an optional essay. Cyndie Schmeiser, the College Board’s chief of assessment, said she thinks students will be “pleasantly surprised” when they take the new exam. It’s better reflects what they’re learning in the classroom, she said. But is a newer SAT, aligned to the Common Core and similar academic standards, concerning to parents and students? Test prep companies say yes — it’s creating a lot of anxiety. And they think that anxiety will be a gift to the College Board’s prime competitor, ACT.
— Jay Bacrania, CEO of the test prep company Signet Education, LLC, said he’s hearing from a lot of parents and students who are worried about the new version of the SAT. “There’s been a lot of hype and publicity,” he said. And while he doesn’t anticipate that students will score much differently on the new version of the SAT than the old, he expects that anxiety will spur more students to look at the ACT. “I think ACT is going to see a big bump in their numbers this year,” Bacrania said. Kaplan Test Prep told Morning Education that in a survey of high school guidance counselors, about a third are advising their students to take both the SAT and ACT. About 43 percent of parents also said their child plans to take both exams, said Lee Weiss, Kaplan’s VP of pre-college programs.
— Paul Weeks, senior vice president of client relations at ACT, said, “We can’t definitively say that more students are choosing to take the ACT over the SAT because of the test changes, but anecdotally and in the press we’re hearing…that a lot of teachers and counselors are encouraging students to stick with a ‘known quantity.’” The testing company has seen growth in Northeastern states where students traditionally take the SAT — including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — since the College Board announced the SAT redesign in 2013. ACT’s growth in test-taking volume from the 2013-14 school year to 2014-15 school year was between 12 percent and 15 percent for each of those states, according to the testing company.
— ACT participation overall has grown — attracting 1.9 million students in 2015 — and has outpaced the SAT, which attracted 1.7 million students the same year. But SAT participation is also growing, up slightly from 1.65 million test-takers in the class of 2011. Millions of high school students across the country are getting their PSAT scores back starting this month. And they’ll be able to use those score reports to create free, customized practice plans with Khan Academy. “Any time a change happens, folks are a bit nervous about it and they don’t know what to expect,” Schmeiser said. But the College Board is taking steps, like the free tutoring resources, to put students at ease. There’s also plenty of material online [http://bit.ly/1Sj8oHA] to help students and parents understand the changes they’ll see this spring, she said. “There are no mysteries about the new test,” she said.