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SAT Drops Essay, Some Vocab Words, and Reverts to 1600 Points

Image: SAT Drops Essay, Some Vocab Words, and Reverts to 1600 Points College Board President David Coleman attends an announcement event, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

By Michael Mullins   |   Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 10:07 AM

The SAT is dropping the essay portion of the exam and will be returning to a 1600-point grading scale, the College Board announced Wednesday.

College Board, the nonprofit company that runs the college entrance exam, announced the changes to the 2400-point exam will be implemented in early 2016 and will affect today’s ninth graders, The Washington Post reported.

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The SAT, which has been in existence for 88 years, is taken by more than 2 million students each year, Reuters reported.

The new SAT will continue to test reading, writing, and math skills, with an emphasis on analysis, The Associated Press reported. The essay, which was added in 2004, will become optional for students and no longer count directly toward the exam's score.

"It is time to admit that the SAT and ACT have become disconnected from the work of our high schools," College Board President David Coleman told reporters in Austin following the announcement. The ACT is another widely used standardized test for university admission.

"Research shows that mastery of fewer, more important things matters more than the superficial coverage of many," Coleman said.

The revised SAT will also focus more on vocabulary words that are widely used in college and in one's career, as opposed to the rarely used words of today's exam that have given way to an industry of challenging flashcards.

The new SAT will also no longer include the rule that deducts a quarter-point for each wrong answer to multiple-choice questions, which was aimed at deterring random guesses.

Along with the test revisions, the College Board also announced that it would be renewing its commitment to low-income students by providing them with customized, targeted support in the college application process.

As part of their outreach, the College Board will be teaming up with the Khan Academy, a nonprofit that provides "free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere."

"The College Board cannot stand by while some test-prep providers intimidate parents at all levels of income into the belief that the only way they can secure their child’s success is to pay for costly test preparation and coaching," Coleman said on Wednesday. "If we believe that assessment must be a force for equity and excellence, it’s time to shake things up."

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