The ACT®, SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT® Test Changes in 2015 and 2016

Sun October 18, 2015

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The ACT®, SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT® standardized tests are changingtests have undergone the most extensive revisions in 11 years. The ACT® and PSAT® test changes have already been implemented, but the redesigned PSAT and SAT® test will not be administered until October 14, 2015 and Spring of 2016, respectively. One major change that applies applying[SP1]  to all the tests is optional computer-based administration, meaning that the tests can be taken on a computer in addition to the traditional pencil-and-paper format. Additionally, though the SAT® and PSAT® test changes closely mirror one another, the PSATT® test is still shorter and scored differently than the SAT test, and there are now versions available for 8th, 9th and 10th graders to take. [s2] In addition, the PSAT® test is still a National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Though the exams still do not accurately depict [SP3] students’ mastery of curricula subjects, the changes do solicit some revisions to the previously sufficient test-taking skill set. In order to adequately adequately [SP4] prepare students for these tests, educators should also be aware of the following test-specific changes:

 

ACT® Test:

1.      There are additional statistics and probability questions in the Math section., though the percentage of total Pre-Algebra items remains unchanged..

2.      The Science section, which previously included 7 passages on every test form, now includes 6 or 7 passages. This change requires a slight adjustment in pacing, since there are fewer passages but more questions per passage.[SP5] 

3.      The Writing section (which is still optional) presents three perspectives on a particular issue. Students develop their own perspective and describe how it relates to the given perspectives. In addition, the essay section is scored on a 1-36 scale (the former scale was 2-12). This alteration is intended to give students incentive to prioritize critical thinking and analysis over verbosity.[SP6] 

4.      Reports include an ELA score (the average of the English, Reading, and Writing scores), which is only provided if the student completes the Writing section, and a STEM score (the average of the Math and Science scores).[s7] 

 

 

SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT ® :Tests:

1.      There is no longer a penalty for guessing.

2.      The tests are presented in four (or five, counting the optional essay) sections rather than 10 sections, which will change students’ testing experience and pacing decisions.

3.      The Reading Test now consists of four long passages and one pair of passages, eliminating the Sentence Completion question type altogether.

4.      The Math Test (consisting of one calculator and one no-calculator section) includes more word problems and some trigonometry items.

5.      The Writing and Language Test now consists ofincludes four long passages corresponding to multiple-choice questions. Though presented differently on the test, Students need to know the samethe topics remain unchanged, but they are presented differently on the test..

6.      The Essay section (SAT only) is now optional. This section now presents incorporates a full-length reading passage in, which students must evaluate for rhetorical effectiveness.

7.      Reports include subscores (subtopics tested within and between test sections) and cross-test scores (items presented in science and history/social studies contexts).

What has really changed? First, there is a general shift to provide more data. ACT ®  test reports will include macro-level data about students’ ELA and STEM scores, while SAT ® and PSAT/NMSQT® test reports will include more micro-level data.[s8]  Second, these changes parallel the general shift in test prep toward testing critical thinking, contextual problem solving, and analysis [SP9] and away from test questions that lend themselves to studying vocabulary lists. These changes, if only superficially[SP10] , are steps away from the tests’ history of prioritizing aptitude over knowledge. However, they still remain imperfect in that traits such as speed that are devoid of subject-specific proficiency continue to be an absolute advantage. [SP11] But the tests have remained the same in thatConsequently, core skills review and test taking strategies can help students improve their scores significantly. It is never too early nor too late to assist students in developing and refining the crucial skills that these tests have been designed to reward through college entrance and scholarships.

ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. ACT, Inc. does not approve or endorse Cambridge Educational Services products or services.measure.[SP12] 

SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT® are registered trademarks of the College Board. The College Board does not approve or endorse Cambridge Educational Services products or services.

 


 [SP1]Should this be “that applies” don’t know I might just be reading it weird.

 [s2]This is new, it was just added before I started tracking changes.

 [SP3]Accurately depict

 [SP4]This could stay as adequately if you accept above comment

 [SP5]Love this part

 [SP6]Do we know how.. not sure it matters?

 [s7]Based on what Dave wants (content, “passion”, etc.), do you think we can omit this?

 

I’m not sure. I almost tend to side with Hannah on this one. If we’re presenting facts we should be complete. Also a lot of our business has to do with score reports and this would help with SEO on that in the long run a bit?

 [s8]Again, for the sake of our readers’ interest in what they should do in response to the changes, should we omit this?  Again, similar opinion as to the other part about reports. They’re also unfortunately really important to any readers b/c their teacher/school/students are judged on their performance in that way. I might keep it and I might also run this by Dave to see if any of our custom reports will mirror these changes.

 [SP9]“,” here or no? again not sure…

 [SP10]

 [SP11]These changes are moving the tests away from their history of…, however being able to work quickly is still an advantage (not sure we can say immediate recall still since with critical thinking we just said that’s where the headway was made?

 

Question: if moving towards critical thinking isn’t that away from immediate recall? I totally get speed though.

 [SP12]Measure and reward them for.

 

Does this make sense? Good scores can equal college entrance, scholarships etc

The ACT®, SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT® tests have undergone the most extensive revisions in 11 years. The ACT and PSAT test changes have already been implemented, but the redesigned SAT test will not be administered until Spring of 2016. One major change that applies to all the tests is optional computer-based administration, meaning that the tests can be taken on a computer in addition to the traditional pencil-and-paper format. Additionally, though the SAT and PSAT test changes closely mirror one another, the PSAT test is still shorter and scored differently than the SAT test, and there are now versions available for 8th, 9th and 10th graders to take. In addition, the PSAT test is still a National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Though the exams still do not accurately depict students’ mastery of curricula subjects, the changes do solicit some revisions to the previously sufficient test-taking skill set. In order to adequately prepare students for these tests, educators should also be aware of the following test-specific changes:

ACT Test:

1. There are additional statistics and probability questions in the Math section..

2. The Science section now includes 6 or 7 passages. This change requires a slight adjustment in pacing, since there are fewer passages but more questions per passage.

3. The Writing section (which is still optional) presents three perspectives on a particular issue. Students develop their own perspective and describe how it relates to the given perspectives. In addition, the essay section is scored on a 1-36 scale (the former scale was 2-12). This alteration is intended to give students incentive to prioritize critical thinking and analysis over verbosity.

4. Reports include an ELA score (the average of the English, Reading, and Writing scores), which is only provided if the student completes the Writing section, and a STEM score (the average of the Math and Science scores).

 

SAT and PSAT/NMSQT Tests:

1. There is no longer a penalty for guessing.

2. The tests are presented in four (or five, counting the optional essay) sections rather than 10 sections, which will change students’ pacing decisions.

3. The Reading Test now consists of four long passages and one pair of passages, eliminating the Sentence Completion question type altogether.

4. The Math Test (consisting of one calculator and one no-calculator section) includes more word problems and some trigonometry items.

5. The Writing and Language Test now includes four long passages corresponding to multiple-choice questions. Though presented differently on the test, the topics remain unchanged.

6. The Essay section (SAT only) is now optional. This section now incorporates a full-length reading passage in which students must evaluate for rhetorical effectiveness.

7. Reports include subscores (subtopics tested within and between test sections) and cross-test scores (items presented in science and history/social studies contexts).

What has really changed? First, there is a general shift to provide more data. ACT test reports will include macro-level data about students’ ELA and STEM scores, while SAT and PSAT/NMSQT test reports will include more micro-level data. Second, these changes parallel the general shift in prep toward testing critical thinking, contextual problem solving, and analysis and away from test questions that lend themselves to studying vocabulary lists. These changes, if only superficially, are steps away from the tests’ history of prioritizing aptitude over knowledge. However, they still remain imperfect in that traits such as speed that are devoid of subject-specific proficiency continue to be an absolute advantage. Consequently, core skills review and test taking strategies can help students improve their scores significantly. It is never too early nor too late to assist students in developing and refining the crucial skills that these tests have been designed to reward through college entrance and scholarships.

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ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc. ACT, Inc. does not approve or endorse Cambridge Educational Services products or services.

SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT® are registered trademarks of the College Board. The College Board does not approve or endorse Cambridge Educational Services products or services.

 

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Cambridge Educational Services, Inc. offers and scores tests from ACT, Inc., The College Board, and other testing companies. These are retired tests, intended for practice purposes only and not for official administration, and are based on high school curriculum as of the copyright dates of the tests. Cambridges products and services, including its score reports, are not approved or endorsed by ACT, Inc., The College Board, or the other companies that develop the tests, and Cambridge has no affiliation with any of those entities.