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SAT Changes – What Do They Mean for Students Studying for the SAT?

Zaragoza Guerra

Written by Zaragoza Guerraon March 12th, 2013

Prior to joining College Coach, I spent part of my career as director of admissions for the Boston Conservatory, where I oversaw overall recruitment and auditions for students interested in music, theater, and dance. I spent most of my admissions career, however, as an admissions officer for two institutes of technology. As an associate director of admissions at MIT, I directed overall recruitment and yield activities as well as international, transfer, and special student admissions. I also served as an assistant director of admissions for Caltech, where I handled specialized student recruitment and reviewed domestic and international student files.
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College Coach recently sat down with Megan Stubbendeck, Global Elite Instructor at Revolution Prep, to get her take on the news shared in the Washington Post article, College Board to make changes to SAT. In part one of our interview, we discussed what this news means for students planning to take the SAT in the next few years and what might have prompted these changes in the first place.

College Coach: Should students currently in the high school pipeline be concerned about how they currently study for the SAT?

Megan Stubbendeck: To be honest, we really don’t know what’s coming, since the College Board hasn’t shared any details.  I do know that they’re not out to give students a brand new test with no time to adjust. The last time they made changes to the SAT back in 2005, adding the writing and changing the scoring scale from 1600 to 2400, the College Board released the changes three years ahead of time.  The timeline will probably be very long on this one, too.

Current juniors and sophomores don’t need to worry about this.  But middle school students and possibly high school freshmen need to be aware that changes are coming.  Ultimately the nuts and bolts of test prep will change, but the larger structure—the fundamentals of test taking, how to deal with stress, the importance of practice—will remain the same.  What do I mean by that?  The types of questions one practices will probably change, the skills will more than likely change.  But test prep should still be about holistic tutoring.  What we do here at Revolution Prep is help students develop good work habits to succeed not just on a specific test, but in their study skills in general.

CC: Any thoughts on what might remain the same with regards to SAT prep after the SAT changes?

MS: The one thing I think that will remain a constant, and this is no matter which test you take, is being in “the test zone.”  These exams are high pressure.  Learning how to deal with nervousness and dealing with challenges is important.  Developing the ability to let go of what you can’t control will always be necessary.

CC: Have you seen more students take ACT Prep?

MS: I think the ACT, historically speaking, has predominantly been taken in the Midwest and the South.  There might not be too much of an increase in those parts of the country, as the ACT has already has a stronghold there, but in my work on the East Coast, I have seen an increase in students taking the ACT. International universities have usually taken the SAT, whereas the ACT has mostly been applicable to US schools.  But anecdotally, many more of my international students are now taking the ACT.

CC: Do you think there is any correlation between this revamping and the number of test takers choosing the ACT surpassing those taking the SAT this year?

MS: The announcement doesn’t really acknowledge this as a reason, but it is a possibility. More students are taking the ACT, and the College Board might be responding to this change.  In a larger context, the College Board is also revamping its AP tests in languages, the sciences and US and World history.  This revamp planning has been in the works for several years, and the rollout will take another several years.  Those changes are meant to do for the APs what this new SAT announcement purports to do for the SATs.  They want to shift from testing students on rote memorization to applying knowledge and analytical skills.  The College Board is changing the way it thinks about testing in general, so that also could be behind this decision.



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