For years now, college admissions officers across the country have been vying for an admissions process capable of completely breaking the spirits of high school students. This past year, the College Board finally agreed on a new test format with a decisive “Fuck it!” Starting in 2016, the SAT will no longer be an enigmatic brainteaser which baffles the minds of Ivy League hopefuls and any-school hopefuls alike. In fact, beginning next year, it may even be incorrect to call the SAT a test. Rather, the Scholastic Aptitude Test will now give students a look into the bleak, punishing and unforgiving world they are about to enter.
First, it is important to note that the SAT will still be conducted in hormone-teeming gymnasiums across the globe. One feature of the SAT that the College Board has always been proud of is that any student in the world should have to endure their four-hour, intellectual triathlon surrounded by complete strangers. But that is where the similarities to the former SAT end, because the new SAT is being changed even on the basic level of what equipment can be used.
Previously, the College Board reminded test-takers that calculators aren’t really necessary to complete the math sections. In spite of this, students have always scrambled to get the best, newest and SAT-approved calculators. Well now, to make life simultaneously a little easier and a lot more painstakingly difficult, College Board will be providing every student with what is now the only approved calculating device, the TI-Abacus! “In this way, students will be figuring out algebra problems and also learning about the menial labor the real world has in store for them,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman.
Furthermore, forget about those #2 pencils. From now on, the only writing utensil acceptable for use on the SAT is a ballpoint pen. Unlike the abacus, however, the College Board will not be supplying students with this necessary test-taking tool, citing that students need to learn early that nothing in life is free. The ballpoint pen also satisfies another aspect of the lesson the new SAT is teaching kids: mistakes are inerasable, unchangeable and will have a profound effect on their future.
Another new feature of the SAT will highlight the omnipresent self-doubt that goes hand-in-hand with adulthood. After each test question they answer, students will be asked a supplementary question, “Are you sure?” College Board has explained this new part of the SAT was derived from focus groups describing millennials as the most self-assured generation alive today. These focus groups later agreed that the College Board would simply be remiss in preparing young adults for college and beyond if they did not make them feel as insecure as possible.
The most significant changes to the SAT, though, are content changes to writing and math sections. In the writing section, now instead of having twenty-five minutes to write an entire essay, test-takers will now have thirty minutes to formulate a graduate-level thesis on a topic of College Board’s choosing. When questioned about the reasoning behind this change, College Board Vice President Frank Ashley responded, “College is mainly about racing deadlines and the SAT is a major component of the college admissions process, so we figured we’d let kids know what they’re getting in to.”
While the writing section prepares students specifically for college life, the math section of the new SAT promises to be extremely applicable to everyday life. To this end, the SAT will continue using real-world math problems, but with a twist. Instead of doing pointless geometric calculations, students will now be using data and statistics to solve problems such as the debt crisis in Greece, the cost of alternative fuel sources, balancing the U.S. budget or redistributing wealth in the United States. The College Board has stressed, however, that test answers will still remain confidential, only read by the test graders and the Department of Homeland Security.
All in all, those that study standardized testing expect that the changes to this test are irrelevant, and will pretty much produce the same results as the old SAT, just slightly more depressing than before. “It’s actually kind of funny how seriously the College Board takes themselves,” said Andrew Barron, a student in the midst of his college search. “I’m probably just going to take the ACT anyway.”