For the second time in a decade, the College Board is preparing to make changes to the SAT, a test that many high school students take to determine their aptitude for college. Keith Antonia, executive director for undergraduate admissions at the University of North Georgia, talks about the changes and how they may impact students applying for college admission.
What are the proposed changes to the SAT?
They're considering reducing the vocabulary to words that are more commonly used, and making the essay optional and scored separately from the rest of the test. This means the test would revert back to the 1,600-point scale. The reading and writing section would rely more heavily on answering questions and citing sources from the passage, and would have students analyzing separate sets of text and data to detect discrepancies between them.
The math portion would have fewer topics, but greater depth in the topics covered, such as problem-solving and data analysis, algebra, and the more complex skills needed to build toward higher math courses, such as calculus. Calculators would only be allowed for some portions.
Lastly, points would no longer be deducted for incorrect answers.
How might these changes impact students applying to the University of North Georgia?
The impact of the changes should be minimal for our applicants. The new test may be a better indicator of academic preparedness for a broader set of students than the current test. Hopefully, it will help us distinguish between prospective students who are more academically prepared and those less prepared.
If the scoring scale changes, the University System of Georgia may consider new minimum scores for admission to all of the state universities within the system, including UNG. This would ensure that students applying for admission to state universities will compete on an even playing field.
It's important to note that a student's grade point average in high school carries more weight for admission to UNG than the SAT or ACT, and I anticipate that this will continue after any SAT changes are made. In addition, we have pathways to admit students who do not test well, but have dreams to pursue associate or higher degrees.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the ACT is currently the most widely used college entrance exam. Is this is an option for students applying to UNG, and are there benefits to using the ACT over the SAT?
Students applying to UNG can use their scores from either the ACT or SAT; one test may have greater appeal to students based on their strengths and preferences. For example, the ACT has a science section based on reading and reasoning skills, but the SAT does not. The ACT also covers more advanced math concepts, and is seen as a generally more comprehensive exam.
For the SAT, section scores often matter more to college admissions officers, as they give us a clearer picture of how strong a student is in certain subjects. With the ACT, the composite score is the most important, as being strong in several areas can diminish weakness in another subject area. There are concerns that the changes proposed for the SAT would make it too similar to the ACT, but they should still differ enough that each will pose advantages to the students considering taking them.