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Students Look Forward To Revamped SAT With More Focus On ‘Real-World’ Problems

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Real-world problems, more “focused” topics, and the elimination of “obscure vocabulary” are among the features of the revamped SAT for college admissions, which will be rolled out in 2016.

But as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday, students were already buzzing about the dramatic revisions two years before they were set to take effect.

At Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, and across Long Island, juniors and seniors are sweating out the college boards.

Some complained that the SAT includes “weird questions,” and took issue in particular with the English section.

“You can’t recognize the words,” one high school student said, “or you have to make a creative guess.”

Leaders of the SAT said they are listening to stressed-out college-bound kids, and thus announced the major changes.

The new SAT will be shortened to three hours, with a critical reading session, language, and math – with no calculators and more interpreting of graphs.

The essay will now be optional, and the top composite score will drop from 2,400 back to 1,600 – as it was up until changes were enacted in 2005.

“I think they’re trying to make it fair,” a student said.

For example, here is a current sample question students have called obscure vocabulary:

There is no doubt that Larry is a genuine _______ : he excels at telling stories that fascinate his listeners.
(A) braggart
(B) dilettante
(C) pilferer
(D) prevaricator
(E) raconteur.

The correct answer is “(E) raconteur” — defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as, “A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way,” but a word that students have noted is not commonly used in real life.

“It’s good that they’re changing the vocabulary section, because they’re putting in more common words,” a student said.

Here is a revamped sample:

The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources. (Adapted from Richard Florida, The Great Reset.)

As used in line 55, “intense” most nearly means
(A) emotional.
(B) concentrated.
(C) brilliant.
(D) determined.

The correct answer is “(B) concentrated.”

“The focus on translating classroom-based skills to the actual test experience is invaluable,” said Kellenberg Memorial High School college placement adviser Ruth Marconi. “I think that will help students gain confidence.”

In another change the SAT will no longer penalize for incorrect answers.

Still, Marconi wondered if the SAT goals of making the stress less stressful, and narrowing the gap between rich and poor, can be realized. She predicted expensive test prep courses will not go away.

College Board leaders admit it will be years before there will be evidence of whether the new SAT does a better job of predicting college performance than the current one.

The ACT recently outstripped the SAT in overall use nationwide – with 1.8 million students taking the ACT compared with 1.66 million taking the SAT. But the SAT remains the entrance test taken most often by students on the East Coast.

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