The College Board is redesigning the SAT. Most notably, it’s pulling the essay section back out and returning the test to two sections, scored from 200 to 800 each — so the max score will once again be 1600, rather than 2400.
The essay section also happens to be extremely game-able.
Another change, rather more odd, is the shift away from point deductions for wrong answers. On a multiple-choice test, a small penalty for wrong answers is a simple way to make leaving a question blank worth as much as blindly guessing the answer — but it’s also confusing and frightening to many unprepared students.
The SAT math section always struck me as rather narrow, but in a good way. It seemed focused on the math that mattered. The new math section is going to be even narrower, so that “students can study these core math areas in depth and have confidence that they will be assessed.”
To make something hard to game, you need to make it hard to prepare for at all, or you need to make it something that everyone is already well prepared for.
One change stands out as not fitting this pattern:
Each exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents or the Great Global Conversation. Students read from either a founding document such as the Declaration of Independence or from the conversation they inspire in the United States and around the world, such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or King’s” I Have a Dream” speech.
I expect the prepared students to be really, really prepared to discuss those documents.