David Coleman, president of the College Board, said the new test would eliminate obligatory essays, modernize the vocabulary section and focus the math sections.
Change was necessary, Coleman said, because the SAT and its counterpart, the ACT, have both "have become disconnected from the work of our high schools."
In addition to making the test available both on paper and on computers beginning in the spring of 2016, the scoring will revert back to the old 1600 scale (down from 2400, when the writing section was added to the main test in 2005) with an optional essay, scored separately. For the first time, incorrect guesses will not be penalized, and a science passage will be added to the reading section.
The College Board will also launch new programs for low-income students, including a partnership with Khan Academy to offer free online practice problems in tandem with instructional videos, and fee waivers allowing them to apply to four colleges free of charge.
The SAT has lost considerable ground in recent years to the ACT, which is now taken by a slightly higher number of students. But both tests have been found to be a less successful predictor of college success, and many schools are making scores optional for applying students.
“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” Coleman said. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.”
[New York Times]