LAS VEGAS, Oct. 28, 2014—Students who followed the College Board's announcement eight months ago and counted backwards realized that the class of 2017—this year's sophomores—will be the first cohort to sit for the redesigned exam. It’s the first major change to the exam since 2005 and, arguably, its most dramatic.
No fewer than four sessions at this week’s College Board Forum focused on the redesign and on getting “ready” for it. Most students think of readiness as practice for the exam so that they can push themselves towards those prized 800s. But readiness applies to high school counselors, test preparation companies, college and high school IT management systems, and, significantly, the college admissions departments that will be receiving and evaluating the new SAT scores.
Among these constituencies, questions abound:
- How can admissions officers compare new SAT scores to old?
- Will their computer systems adjust to two sections rather than three?
- Can the test be valid and fair in the first year?
- Will colleges require students to complete the optional essay?
- How will colleges use the new subscores?
- Will scores be “normed” in the same way as always?
- Will minorities who historically earn lower average scores than do other groups—43% of test-takers overall are deemed “ready” for college; 15% of African-Americans reach that benchmark—find a more level playing field?
- Will my Naviance scattergrams become useless?
These are all serious questions that generated extensive discussion and will continue to do so. College Board officials assured their audiences that analysis and field tests of the exam are proceeding apace and that all of these questions will be answered by the time students take out their pencils in 2016.
The College Board has released detailed specifications and has widely publicized the most dramatic changes. They include a return to two sections, the reduction of answer choices from five to four, and, most significantly, a stronger focus on the type of knowledge that students gain in school. The College Board is attempting to align the test with academic skills rather than what are often considered to be test-taking skills with little bearing on academics or other real-world challenges.
The first official administration will take place in March 2016. Full specifications are already available in a 216-page PDF. This isn't a study guide or a practice exam, though, because the College Board is putting actual exam materials through many rounds of testing and norming. The first practice exams and study guides are forthcoming in December, with a full launch of preparatory materials in May 2015. The College Board plans on releasing four complete practice exams prior to the first test date.
Many students take their first SAT in the spring of junior year. They might start preparing up to six months ahead of time, depending how ambitious they are. What may have been a curiosity a few months ago is quickly becoming a reality.
But students who’ll be studying for the redesigned SAT are still wondering: Studying for what, exactly? How to study for it?
What does ArborBridge say to all of this? Bring it on.
Here are a few reasons why ArborBridge will handles the transition better than any other test preparation company:
Size. ArborBridge has reached hundreds of students in 40 different countries. That doesn't mean we're big. We don't have thousands of tutors to re-train or scores of branch offices to coordinate. We have a few dozen of the best tutors in the world, and they will all be teaching our new SAT curriculum with equal expertise.
Centralization. ArborBridge operates out of a single headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Under one roof, our curriculum staff and program managers collaborate on a daily basis. The new SAT curriculum is their top priority.
Smarts. Our curriculum team, headed by Dr. Megan Stubbendeck, takes a precise, surgical approach to the SAT. It's all they think about.
Faculty. ArborBridge hires tutors based on two criteria: teaching ability and knowledge of the SAT. Successful candidates have to score off the charts on both. Our tutors are smart enough to learn the nuances of the new SAT quickly. Their talent for teaching ensures that their transition from old curriculum to new will be seamless.
Track Record. ArborBridge already has the most advanced, most precise curriculum in the test preparation industry and it already achieves greater score gains per hour of tutoring than any other company in the industry. There is no better foundation on which to build the next generation of SAT preparation. Learn more about our revolutionary curriculum here.
Will this transition require a lot of work? Of course. Has the College Board created a major challenge? Certainly. But that's ArborBridge's whole purpose. Just as we expect our students to meet the challenge of the exam, and to exceed their wildest goals, we expect ourselves to do the same.
No one teaches more effectively and no one helps students achieve greater gains than ArborBridge does. That's true now. It will be true next year. It will be true for many, many years to come.