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The new SAT and what it means By MANISH KHAROD

The days of the old SAT are over. Gone are the days when students had to complete analogies and quantitative comparisons. The College Board, the body that conducts the SAT exams, made some vital changes.

For the first time in the 67-year history of the SAT, the March 12 test will include a written essay. The new SAT exams starting from March 12 are fundamentally different. Students will be graded from 2400 points instead of 1600. Unlike the old SAT, the new test consists of 800 points for Critical Reading (formally called Verbal), 800 points for Writing and 800 points for Math. The Writing section is the new part and will be 60 minutes long. It will include a student written essay and multiple-choice questions on grammar and usage. The Critical Reading section will be 70-minute long and include reading comprehension of long and short reading passages. The analogies will be eliminated. The Math section will be 70 minutes long and has been expanded to include topics from third-year college preparatory math.

The College Board’s purpose of adding the new writing section was to include a third measure of skills to help colleges make better placement decisions.

The most challenging part will be the essay. The students will be graded from scores of 0, for a blank sheet of paper or an essay that has nothing to do with the topic, to 6 - the highest possible score. The team will use a technique known as "holistic scoring," a euphemism for reading an essay quickly (a minute or so per paper) and making a snap judgment. The scoring technique puts a premium on a student's ability to develop a logical chain of reasoning over the mechanics of writing. There will be two judges and if their scores differ by more than one, it will be referred to the supervisor.

The question on everyone’s mind: How do you score well on the essay? There is no single formula for achieving a high score. Actually formulaic writing can result in a lower score. However, strong language with good examples may be a winning formula.

The essay is one area where students and parents will definitely need help. We, the parents, do not know how to evaluate the essays and students do not know how to improve their essay writing skills.

We wish all the best to the students in their new SAT endeavor.

Manish Kharod works with Verizon and teaches voluntarily at Vidyalaya of Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa.
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