Will new SAT level the playing field for students?

WASHINGTON — Changes to the SAT are aimed to make the exam a better reflection of what students need to succeed in college, but a standardized testing expert says the alterations still won’t level the playing field for students.

As part of the changes to the SAT, which will eliminate the essay portion and score the test on a 1,600-point-scale, the College Board is launching a massive test coaching program for students, says Bob Schaeffer, director of public education at the standardized test watchdog group FairTest.

“[The test coaching] may slightly level the playing field by making basic test prep available to all students,” Schaeffer says.

“But it will not change the fact that those with means will buy themselves much better test prep and boost their scores.”

Schaeffer says there have long been free and low-cost test preparation courses, such as the ones on NumberTwo.com. However, the “well-to-do parents will still buy their kids a leg up through personal SAT trainers,” he says.

Schaeffer say before parents empty their bank accounts on test prep courses, they should figure out which type of test preparation will work best for their child’s learning style and their wallets.

Also, parents and students should consider test-optional colleges. At test optional colleges, test scores are not required for admission, “since they aren’t very good predictors,” Schaeffer says. Instead, the schools evaluate high schools grades and class rigor.

Test-optional universities in the D.C. area include American University, Trinity University, University of District of Columbia and Strayer University, according to FairTest.

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