College Board gives sneak preview of redesigned SAT exam

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 16, 2014 11:48 AM

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prospective college students on Wednesday got a peek at new sample questions on the SAT, a widely used college entrance exam that will undergo a redesign over the next two years.

The College Board, which oversees the exam required by most colleges and universities for admission, said it was releasing the draft test specifications on its website "to illustrate the shifts in the redesigned SAT."

The overhauled exam will roll out to students in 2016 and focuses on "fewer topics that are most essential for college and career success," College Board President David Coleman and Cynthia Schmeiser, the College Board's chief of assessment, said in a letter posted online.

The test will do away with the required essay, outdated vocabulary words and penalties for wrong answers.

Instead, it will include a more streamlined focus on math, and each student can expect to encounter questions related to a passage from the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents of the United States, the College Board said.

Plans to overhaul the SAT, which is taken by more than 2 million students every year, were announced by the New York-based College Board last month.

The exam is extremely important to most college hopefuls, with its results sometimes weighing as heavily in college admissions as academic performance.

New questions will focus on punctuation and proper sentence structure, while the math section will have a heavy emphasis on algebra and problem solving using real-world scenarios.

One sample question asked: "The toll rates for crossing a bridge are $6.50 for a car and $10 for a truck. During a two-hour period, a total of 187 cars and trucks crossed the bridge, and the total collected in tolls was $1,338." It asked for an equation that "yields the number of cars, x, and the number of trucks, y, that crossed the bridge during the two hours?"

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The answer is x + y = 187 and 6.5x + 10y = 1,338.

The College Board stressed that the sample questions and guidelines released on Wednesday were an early draft, subject to numerous revisions.

"Actual items used on the exam will go through extensive reviews and pretesting to help ensure that they are clear and fair, and that they measure what is intended," the letter said.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jonathan Oatis)