The College Board has released more information about the changes to the SAT exam you've been hearing about.
The new exam will be administered starting in the Spring of 2016. So high school sophomores and juniors will still take the current version of the test; the one that is 2400 points, including an essay section.
But if you have children who are freshman in high school or younger, you should prepare for a return to the 1600-point standard. The essay will become optional.
In making the announcement last month, David Coleman, the president of the College Board, promised not only changes but also transparency. “No more mysteries. We are going to tell everyone what's on the exam,” he said.
He also said the College Board would provide free test help to anyone who wants it.
That could be a shot at test prep companies like Capital Educators, which primarily targets high achieving students in the Baltimore and DC areas.
“Making the test more fair is certainly a positive thing but the reality is, if you study intensely for the test you're going to be in better position than if you don't,” said Phil Pine, the president of Capital Educators.
He says the SAT's changes are partially in response to growth from its competitor, the ACT.
“They don't want to say first and foremost that that's why they're doing but it's absolutely factoring into the calculation,” Pine said.
It is also an attempt to align the exam with what's being taught in the nation's high schools, including the Common Core curriculum.
So -- for the verbal section, expect fewer vocabulary words, and more critical reading.
“The idea that if you're reading a story, that you don't just pick your answer, but you're able to identify where you found that answer and how the author gave you that information,” Pine said.
Math is changing too, to questions that involve real-world situations. “It's not just going to be just computing an average. It's going to be computing your average miles per hour,” he said.
The 800-point essay section that was introduced in 2005 will become optional. So the highest potential SAT score will once again be 1600.
Phil Pine says many students will skip the essay -- but admissions officers at more selective colleges are still likely to want to see it.