Mar 202005
Authors: Megan Schulz

A new, overhauled version of the college admissions test, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), will debut this month.

The high school senior class of 2006 will be the first group of students to take the new test.

Some of the changes include a 25-minute essay, shorter reading passages, slightly more difficult math questions and elimination of analogies, according to The overall length of the new test is nearly four hours.

"It sucks that they changed it right around the time I have to take it," said Richard Dean, a junior at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.

Dean, who said he would like to attend college at either CSU or the University Northern Colorado, will also take the American College Testing Program (ACT) this spring. He said the addition of an essay to the SAT will have a mixed reaction among his peers.

"It will go half and half," Dean said. "Some people will like that they can show what they really know about the subject instead of answering multiple choice questions."

CSU Admissions Assistant Director Timalyn O'Neill said the new test will not affect the admissions process drastically.

"It's really a pretty minor change in how we will do admissions," O'Neill said. "Some schools for a long time have wanted more writing-based material for placement. But it won't necessarily let every student shine."

O'Neill said CSU uses concordance charts that compare SAT and ACT scores, matching the percentile ranks. CSU Admissions accepts either test and does not display a preference.

"Depending on personality, (students) can like one style better than another," O'Neill said. "For the decision, we will use whichever test score is higher on any test date."

Time magazine estimated in Oct. 2003 that invariably some students will do better on the test while others will do worse. Girls generally outperform boys on writing exams, and boys generally score higher on math exams.

"I don't like writing essays," Dean said. "You'll be hurrying (in the 25 minutes) and you could spell wrong and not look over your work."

Lindsey Hillman, a freshman business major, said while she was in high school she preferred the ACT over the SAT. She took the ACT three times and took the SAT once.

"The main reason was that on the ACT you aren't penalized for guessing," said Hillman. "But with an essay (on the SAT), you can show the talent you actually have."

Hillman said high school students in Colorado are more likely to take the ACT because all high school juniors in Colorado are required to take it anyway.

"For kids trying to get into CSU, it doesn't matter that they changed the SAT," Hillman said.

O'Neill also said the overhauling of the SAT will not have any negative effects.

"As to whether or not it's a good thing, I have confidence in the test designers," O'Neill said. "What they're going to put together ultimately is going to be a reasonable piece."

O'Neill said in the foreseeable future, Admissions will not use the essay score in their decisions. They look for the overall quality of a student's academic experience.

"Our job is to admit students," O'Neill said. "We are the Office of Admissions, not the Office of Denial. At CSU, we're really committed to making sure we are looking at the whole picture."

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