Yesterday's announcement from the College Board about impending changes to the SAT exam set the college admission world abuzz. University admissions officers, college counselors, students, and parents are both excited and anxious about these changes. We at ArborBridge are 100 percent excited and 0 percent anxious. We want our students to feel the same way.
ArborBridge has put the better part of a decade into the development of its SAT curriculum. Our tutors have logged untold thousands of hours of instruction. Our students have gained more points than we can count. We are immensely proud of our work and of our students' accomplishments.
Why, then, should we be excited to start from Square One?
Because we won't be starting from Square One.
The Proof is in the Teaching
The heart of any educational institution – be it a public university an overseas high school or a boutique tutoring firm – is its teaching. Great teaching depends on so many things: knowledge, eloquence, empathy, enthusiasm, and so much more. ArborBridge offers great teaching now. It will offer great teaching in 2016. And it will offer great teaching long thereafter. When the new SAT launches, adding what will be the world's best new SAT curriculum to what is already an extraordinary corps of teachers will result in an unbeatable combination.
For the next two years, ArborBridge’s curriculum team will be following the debut of the new SAT every step of the way. They will be reading background material, attending conferences, and, when the time is right, scrutinizing sample exams and exercises. They will know the exam inside and out long before anyone has to take out his or her No. 2 pencil. They will make sure that every ArborBridge tutor will confer the full benefit of this new curriculum on every student.
We are excited to seize this moment not just because of the quality of our team but also because of its size. Even though ArborBridge has a global reach – with students in over 30 different countries ArborBridge is not a Fortune 500 company with divisions and subsidiaries and far-flung employees. Nor are we a division or subsidiary of anything else. We are the smartest people in test prep - an intimate group of innovative educators, committed to delivering the world's best SAT prep by combining the science of learning and the art of teaching. We are nimble, and adaptable. We have dozens of tutors, not thousands. Each one of them will be ready to serve our students.
Prepping For the New SAT
The College Board has announced that, for many reasons, it wishes to suppress the role of preparation in the standardized testing process. We applaud this goal. Inefficient, ineffective test preparation does not serve students well, and it exacts a tremendous opportunity cost. But, as long as colleges value standardized testing, good instruction will always serve a worthwhile purpose.
The SAT is not a test of “native intelligence” (if there is such a thing). It tests skills and bodies of knowledge. As with other skill or body of knowledge – from shooting a basketball to writing an English paper to arguing in front of the Supreme Court – there are infinite ways for students and professionals to develop their intellectual assets and to respond to the challenges they face. ArborBridge will always help students rise to those challenges.
With all of that said, we want to be clear: None of these changes, to the exam or to ArborBridge's curriculum, apply to students currently in 10th grade (Year 11) or above. The first group of college applicants who will study for and take the new SAT are this year's 9th graders. ArborBridge will continue to serve these older students with its current curriculum.
ArborBridge will be monitoring developments in the new SAT as they are announced by the College Board. Our tutors and curriculum directors will provide frequent commentary on and insight into these announcements via our blog, newsletter, and YouTube channel.
We welcome questions and comments from students, parents, college counselors and our friends at schools around the world.
The ArborBridge Team
About the New SAT
The College Board has released the following description of the new SAT; details are expected to be announced in the coming months:
- Three sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math, and the Essay.
- Return to the 1600 scale. The essay will provide a separate score.
- Approximately three hours in length, with an additional 50 minutes for the essay.
- Administered both in print and by computer in 2016.
- Scoring does not deduct points for incorrect answers.
- Relevant words in context: SAT vocabulary will focus on words that students will use consistently in college and beyond.
- Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.
- Essay analyzing a source: The essay will measure students' ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
- Math focused on three key areas: problem solving and data analysis; the heart of algebra; and passport to advanced math.
- Source documents originate from a wide range of academic disciplines, including science and social studies: The reading section will enable students to analyze a wide range of sources, including literature and literary non-fiction, science, history and social studies.
- Analyzing data and texts in real world context: Students will be asked to analyze both text and data in real world contexts, including identifying and correcting inconsistencies between the two.
- Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation: Each exam will include a passage drawn from the Founding Documents of America or the Great Global Conversation they inspire — texts like the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.