Early takers: New SAT wasn’t so bad, not so tricky

Jennifer C. Kerr
Associated Press

Washington – — Not so tricky. More straightforward. Guessing allowed. The newly redesigned SAT college entrance exam that debuts nationally Saturday is getting good reviews from some of the students who took it early this week.

The new exam focuses less on arcane vocabulary words and more on real-world learning and analysis by students. Students no longer will be penalized for guessing. And the essay has been made optional.

The College Board says more than 463,000 test-takers signed up to take the new SAT in March.

Because the exam is new, the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT, has restricted the exam on Saturday to those applying to college or for scholarships, financial aid or other programs requiring a college test score. People who don’t fall into these categories have been rescheduled to take the May test, which will be released at a point afterward. The College Board said it took the action because of concerns about possible theft.

Brian Keyes, a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School in the nation’s capital, says he really didn’t mind the new SAT.

“There aren’t as many questions where it’s trying to trick you … It was much more straightforward,” he said

For math, he said, “the new version was a lot more like basic concepts, so it wouldn’t be very obscure formulas that you have to remember. If you had the basics of algebra down, even if the problem was difficult, you could work your way through it.”

Said classmate Isabel Suarez: “I liked it better than the old one. I thought that it was way more applicable to what we’ve been learning in school.”

Isabel, a junior, said the math was a little harder. “It was more algebra based, but I think I was able to perform a lot better on it than the old one because it was stuff that I actually learned in school.”

In fact, Suarez, who likes to write, said she enjoyed the reading section. “My AP English class definitely really prepared me for it. I honestly enjoyed the grammar part because I like to pick out problems in writing.”

The exam was administered Wednesday at Wilson and other District of Columbia high schools and at schools in more than a dozen states.