Does the new SAT resemble the ACT?

One professional's opinion on the new standardized tests

Does the new SAT resemble the ACT?

It can be said that the redesigned SAT is starting to resemble the ACT, the test that has been siphoning off current SAT customers. The Evidence-Based Reading section strongly resembles the ACT reading test now, just as the SAT writing section is reminiscent of ACT English. The only difference is the charts, tables and graphs that are being added to the SAT Reading and Writing sections, but these closely mimic the science test on the ACT. 

The SAT Math section now has advanced math — just like its competitor — but it’s likely not doing itself any favors by creating a no-calculator section. While it is no secret that a calculator is never required to solve questions on either test, the average high school student shudders at the thought of performing any math operation without having their calculator handy. 

In a marketing war where the ACT has branded itself as the easier test — though most test prep experts will tell you there is no truth to that label — the redesigned SAT almost certainly needs to appear easier than the ACT to win back its market share. The word on the street, however, is that even more students will be migrating to the ACT to avoid a calculator-less section of math.

An argument can still be made that the redesigned SAT is a better assessment of critical reasoning and college readiness, and thus the College Board is less worried about its test appearing more difficult, and more concerned with the assessment itself. 

It’s also worth noting that David Coleman, one of the chief architects of the Common Core State Standards, is now the president of the College Board. So it seems reasonable to presume that he foresees multiple states adopting the redesigned SAT as an exit test, since it aligns so perfectly with the standards he authored. As such, it won’t matter what students believe about the test — they would be forced to take it even if they prefer the alternative. However, with the Common Core under such scrutiny and many states starting to opt out of the program, the future of the SAT remains uncertain.


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