Planned Changes to SAT Exam Are Bad News for Kids

When was the last time your boss used the word "dissentious" at your Monday morning meeting? According to the College Board, which produces the much-dreaded SAT exam, the fact that the answer to this question is probably "never" is reason enough to get rid of those pesky and difficult vocabulary words that are, well, known as "SAT words." Test-makers are also planning to make other big changes to the college entrance exam, including changing the scoring system from 2,400 points back to the 1,600-point system it once used. And if your teen just hates writing essays, no biggie. The essay portion will be optional.

Hmmm ... maybe high schools could just hand out college degrees at graduation and we could eliminate the test altogether?


The board wants to make these changes to the test in spring 2016 because it feels the exam should better reflect what students will need to know when they enter the workplace. Instead of testing teens on words like "acumen" and "cupidity," they want to include vocabulary they might actually hear on the job. So, does this mean they should expect to see totally annoying phrases like "Let's leverage the data" and "We'll touch base about that offline"? Maybe they can write "how-to" instructions on how to successfully order coffee for five senior managers?

But that would mean they'd have to pick up a pen and write. Never mind.

To be fair, many colleges now favor the ACT exam instead of the SAT, and a great many others are looking at a student's comprehensive academic portfolio, as well as extracurricular activities, before making final decisions about who they will admit. This is crucial because some children are simply not great at taking tests and it wouldn't be fair to judge them based on test scores alone.

At the same time, I can't help but feel we're lowering the standards for our children at a time when they should be pushed, assuming a college degree is something they really, really want. If the concern is that students aren't being tested for skills they'll need in the workplace, bring back trade and vocational schools and offer a different test for teens who only want a college degree so they can pursue a specific job.

Higher education is designed to expose kids to ideas and theories -- including those they may not need once they sit down in front of a computer at work. It's supposed to make them more well-rounded individuals. When my child reaches college age, I hope the expectations set for her are more -- and not less -- rigorous.

What do you think of the changes being made to the SAT exam?


Image via Abi Skipp/Flickr

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