College counselors Jane Bauman and Chris Kuipers held a meeting attended by 15 sophomore parents on the changes in next year’s SAT and how sophomores should prepare themselves at 8 a.m. on April 16. Bauman, who answers the questions below, will go to the annual meeting for Bay Area Independent School College Counselors in May, and the redesigned SAT will be a discussion topic.
Q: Was this the first Coffee with the College Counselors for sophomore parents?
A: Yes, I have never had a morning meeting. The point of this meeting was to be short and informal. We wanted to meet the sophomore parents now because the redesigned SAT will affect sophomores.
Q: What is changing on the SAT?
A: I didn’t get into the nitty gritty of the changes at the meeting, but there are eight principal changes. There is no longer a penalty for getting wrong answers, and vocabulary will be treated in context. The purpose of the meeting wasn’t to explain these changes, but to talk about preparation.
Q: Do you like the changes?
A: I think the changes are positive. I think the changes will play to the strengths of our students. Some people think (the SAT) will be harder, but I don’t think so. It will emphasize critical thinking and analysis. The College Board is doing a very good job of notifying students and teachers, so they have time to help students prepare for the changes.
Q: Why do you think the SAT was changed?
A: I think it is being redesigned to better compete with the ACT and keep in line with the Common Core Standards.
Q: What were parents worried about?
A: The most frequently asked question is “Should my child take the old SAT?”. Only rarely would I recommend a current sophomore take the old SAT. I think sophomores should plan ahead and take the new SAT.
If they take the old SAT, then they would be compared to students who took the SAT in spring of junior year or fall of senior year. It’s better to wait for developmental gains and take the redesigned SAT in spring of junior year.
Q: What do you think of colleges creating different test-score submission policies?
A: I think it’s a great idea and long overdue. Test submission policies are becoming more flexible. New York University will accept three AP test scores: one math, one English and one other. That policy is not for everyone, so they will also accept three SAT Subject Test scores: one math, one English and one other, which is more doable. Of course NYU still accepts SAT and ACT scores.
The problem is that you don’t know where you’re going to apply in your senior year or what the college’s testing policy is, so you need a sensible testing plan. More colleges are becoming test optional. I’m so glad that those schools aren’t defining students by their test scores.
Q: Will you have another meeting with the sophomore parents?
A: I’m going to make it a tradition to have an informal meeting with the sophomore parents in the spring, but I will probably do it a little earlier next year. I will meet the parents of this year’s sophomores again in the fall for the Junior College Counseling meeting during the first week of school.