News

Old college entrance test has new look

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

The new SAT is coming Saturday.

The College Board, the organization that creates the college entrance exam, changed the test for the first time in more than a decade. The test is one aspect many colleges and universities use when deciding to accept applicants.

Analogies from the critical-reading section have been removed, and long and short reading passages were added.

The math section has been revamped to include topics such as exponential growth, absolute value and negative and fractional exponents.

Maybe the most talked about addition is an essay. The College Board states the writing section demands students “take a position on an issue and use reasoning and examples to support their position.” It reflects the type of writing expected on in-class essay exams.

Students at Federal Way High School started hearing about the new test in the fall of 2003, said Carla Boone of the school’s career center. Many were concerned about the changes, especially the new writing portion.

By now the buzz among the students has ebbed and receded, Boone said. Students’ anxiety went down once it was explained what the additions to the test would look like and how they would be graded.

The school’s PTSA received a grant to create a test preparation program that started last month and ends April 30. It is sold out, and students from around the district are enrolled.

Students have also been able to take sample tests available from College Board. The time alloted for taking the test is three hours and 45 minutes.

Boone said she plans to poll some students after their results are back from the first tests. The new SAT will make its debut this Saturday.

Parents seemed low-key about the change, and Boone credited presentations made in November to dispel worries and answer questions.

The reactions from public universities across Washington are mixed on the new test. The test, which debuted in the 1920s, has changed over time. It’s last makeover was in 1994.

Washington State University and the University of Washington will require the new test scores for the class of 2006 and those applying for fall 2006 admission.

Western Washington University will take scores from either test. A cutoff for accepting scores from the old test has not been set, said Michael Barr of WWU’s admissions department.

Mike Reilly, interim associate vice president at Central Washington University, said it will be a few more years before the Ellensburg-based school begins using the essays on the test as part of admissions.

Central will collect the essays but wants to see how the students perform in the classroom to create a guideline for determining admission, Reilly said.

Community college applicants don’t have to worry about the changed SAT. The basic requirements to enroll there are being at least 18 years old or having graduated from high school.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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