The New SAT

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In its current form, the SAT is designed to produce a range of scores; questions are written in such a way that only a few of the best test takers (or those who have paid a lot of money to learn how to game the test) can answer the hardest questions correctly.  Because of that, the SAT has served as something of a gatekeeper at the most elite colleges and universities.  

There are lots and lots of kids out there who have straight As, but there aren't nearly enough spots at Ivies and the like to accommodate all of them.  However, of those straight A students, only a small percentage have a perfect or near perfect score on the SAT.  As a result, the SAT acts as a sort of weeding device for college admissions officers; fair or not, it’s a justification for rejecting all of those otherwise amazing kids.  

So what will happen when the SAT starts measuring what is actually taught in school?  If all of those straight A students start killing the SAT, how will colleges distinguish them from one another?  What will become the new basis for rejecting otherwise amazing kids? 

It seems to me that it can only come from two places; writing ability and extracurricular activities.  Writing ability I think would make sense – I have seen more than my share of students who do extremely well in school, but can’t put a proper paragraph together to save their lives.  Yet, while The College Board is making changes to the writing section of the SAT so that it actually tests one’s ability to write, the section is going to become optional – it will be up to colleges to require it of their applicants, and I hope that they will.