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New SAT: Optional essay, no penalties for wrong answers

The SAT college entrance exam is undergoing major changes, including an optional essay and no penalties for wrong answers.
March 5, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The SAT college entrance exam is undergoing major changes, including an optional essay and no penalties for wrong answers.

The College Board said Wednesday that it's also doing away with some SAT words like "prevaricator" or "sagacious" in favor of words more commonly used in school and on the job.

The test should offer "worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles," said College Board President David Coleman.

The new exam will be rolled out in 2016. It will be the first change to the test since 2005. The new SAT will continue to test reading, writing and math skills, with an emphasis on analysis.

Scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale, with a separate score for the optional essay. It will be up to school districts and colleges the students apply to as to whether the essay will be required.

Free online tutoring will also be offered to even out the advantage of wealthier students who can afford expensive prep courses. The College Board says it will partner with the nonprofit Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials for students.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Kaplan Test Prep, which has long been helping students prepare for tests, said it thinks making SAT prep courses widely available is a good idea.

"We think it's terrific that the College Board is making SAT prep widely available for students of all income levels. Not only are they validating that test prep works, but it's something we've been doing for years. In fact, we hope they extend these kinds of opportunities to their AP programs as well," said Seppy Basili, vice president of Kaplan Test Prep. "It's important to keep in mind that SAT scores have always been a measure of whether a student is prepared for college-level work and everyone should have an opportunity to put their best foot forward."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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