New SAT challenges Chinese students
An overhauled SAT with a heavier emphasis on reading comprehension may affect Chinese students’ performance, according to some industry experts.
Some of those students have traditionally excelled in the math portion of the test and have relied heavily on rote memorization and cramming.
The new test will feature longer and more difficult reading passages as well as wordier math problems that the College Board, which administers the test, said will test students on their realworld applications.
Short sentence-completion questions will be eliminated, and students will have to figure out the meaning of vocabulary words in reading passages.
The writing section will be optional, and maximum scores are going back to 1600, down from the 2400 points for the tests administered between 2005 and 2016. The overhaul of the SAT is the most substantial in a decade.
Some college admissions officers and education experts say that students from immigrant families and non-native Englishspeaking countries will be at a disadvantage when being tested with longer reading passages.
“The heavier weighting on extended reading passages could well put kids whose home language is not English at a disadvantage, because the test remains speeded — time is a key issue,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
“They may feel pressed to complete many of the longer passages in the available time, and quite often, kids from other nations are translating in their head from the English text to their home language and then back to English to get the right answer,” he said.
The College Board said in a statement provided to China Daily that the new SAT measures skills essential for college and career readiness for all students “regardless of geography”.
“The College Board has redesigned the SAT to make it more focused, useful and clear for all students than ever before, in part by eliminating the tricks and mysteries that previously left some students at a disadvantage.
Among the biggest changes to the test is the removal of obscure vocabulary words that were an unnecessary barrier for some students, including those whose first language is not English.”
College Board also said that the new test will feature passages from American founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers.
“Other than waiving a patriotic flag, there is no measurement reason why reading passages should be about US founding documents rather than Darwin or the UN founding documents,” Schaeffer said.
Dennis Yim, an SAT programs manager for Kaplan Test Prep, said the changes will alter who does well on the test, making it harder for slower readers, and those who struggle with English as a second language.
It could impact students who usually perform well on the math section.
“It’s important to understand that students should take an early look at the test and understand what those new challenges will be — especially, especially on the math section,” Yim said.
“On the previous test, there were questions that tested just your baseline knowledge, your ability to use number operations or setting up equations. But now we’re talking about a math test that yes, still is 30 percent word problems, but we’re looking at word problems that involve pretty intricate scenarios,” said Yim.