Rhode Island Monthly Higher Learning 2016 : Page 8

not just from literature, but also from scientific, historical and social science sources. Students begin the test with this segment, which contains a sixty-five-minute reading section and a thirty-five-minute language and writing section. Obscure vocabulary words, like ‘fulmination,’ have been scrapped in favor of questions that ask students to analyze things in greater depth. Passages range from 500 to 750 words. Then, the writing and language section tests the “expression of ideas” and “standard English conventions.” Questions are drawn from extended prose of 400 to 450 words. The math section has also undergone a major overhaul. Questions regarding what time the train left the station and when it will arrive have been replaced by translating rupees into dollars and analyzing the percentage of fees incurred for pre-paid charge cards. Creators say that it emphasizes real-world problem solving and is enhanced by informational graphics for data analysis. Calculators are permitted for thirty-seven ques-tions but not permitted for twenty questions. Students will be tested in four areas: the “Heart of Algebra” contains formulas, equations, systems of equations and inequalities; “Problem Solving and Data Analysis” goes into percentages, ratios, proportions, units, graphical relationships and data analysis; “Advanced Math” asks students to rearrange equations and expressions and presents quadratic equations; and, finally, “Additional Topics” covers geometry and trigonometry. The last part of the new SAT is the optional writing section. Many competitive colleges are likely to require this, based on precedent from the ACT. Students will go from writing for twenty-five minutes on the old SAT and taking a personal stance on an issue to a fifty-minute segment that asks test-takers to read and analyze a specific text and then write an essay that provides supporting evidence. The Good News Several administrative enhancements are also being made with the release of the new SAT. First, students won’t lose points for wrong answers, which mirrors the long-term ACT scoring methodology. This can serve to make students more free to guess the answer when they are not certain. Next, a computerized version of the test will be offered, although it is unclear when it will be released and how widespread its availability will be. And, finally, fee waivers for college applications will be more accessi-ble for low-income students who choose to take the new SAT. how To PrePare Experts say that you can put away vocabulary flash cards and that, instead, you should read, read, read. Exposure to a variety of texts, the ability to interpret passages and the recognition of words in a variety of contexts will be keys to success with the new SAT. Students should take United States history and government courses before the eleventh grade. It is clear that documents from the founding fathers to recent congressional hearings will play a big role in the new test. In mathematics, students are advised to become algebra aficionados (without a calculator) and to complete Algebra Two by the end of tenth grade. The new SAT will focus 8 RHODE ISL AND MONTHLY I higher le arning I 2016

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