When it comes to college admissions testing, there have been noteworthy developments that our students are now confronting. Driven by new leadership directives to move to a “Common Core” curriculum standard, the College Board implemented a Redesigned SAT which was first administered in March of 2016.

The structure of the Redesigned SAT consists of four sections and the Essay:

  • Reading Test
  • Writing and Language Test
  • Math Test Calculator section
  • Math Test No-calculator section
  • Optional Essay

Among the most significant changes highlighted in the Redesigned SAT:

  • A reversion back to a 1600 scale (from a 2400 scale)
  • A no-calculator section of the math test
  • Addition of a few science and history-based questions
  • Free online test preparation in collaboration with Khan Academy
  • Removal of some of the more challenging vocabulary questions
  • Removal of the guessing penalty
  • A modification to the style of the Essay (which became optional)

Many SAT test takers have found the new no-calculator section intimidating, though Cary Christian students are well prepared for this challenge. This no-calculator section contains problems for which a calculator provides no support.  In fact, every question on the SAT can be solved without a calculator.

Changes made to the SAT make it align more closely to its competitor’s test, the ACT, which has recently edged out the SAT as the preferred college admission test. The ACT is a high school-based content test and is composed of four sections and the Essay:

  • English Test
  • Math Test
  • Reading Test
  • Science Test
  • Optional Revised Essay

Scoring for the ACT is an average or “Composite” of the four tests. The changes to the ACT have been an insignificant renumbering of questions in the Science Test and a revision to the style of the essay. Those students who have a strong science aptitude often prefer the ACT’s (true) Science Test.  A strong Science score helps raise the ACT composite score sent to colleges.

As an increasing number of colleges are using the Common Application, they are using its required essays to determine an applicant’s ability to write a comprehensive standard essay. Proficient writers should consider using the optional SAT or ACT essay to further demonstrate their superior writing skills.

I strongly recommend that students use downloadable resources available from the SAT and ACT test sites to understand the detailed content of each test. Further, students should take practice tests to help determine the test for which they are best suited. Practice test questions published by these source test makers have the level of validity optimal for successful test preparation.

Colleges realize that the greatest predictor of college success is a student’s four years of high school performance, not a few hours of standardized testing. A growing number of colleges have placed a lesser emphasis on entrance testing. However, an overwhelming number continue to use this testing hurdle to screen their applicants from the thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of candidates they must consider each year.

Your Cary Christian School students are very well prepared to address these and other challenges.  They are routinely accepted at top universities locally and across the nation. They are receiving an excellent classical Christian education that transcends any fluctuating educational trends. With an education founded upon a biblical worldview, they take the name of Christ with them wherever He leads.