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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

UVA's Policy on the New SAT

The SAT is changing again.

The last time the SAT changed, the writing exam stopped being a Subject Test (most selective schools required it) and a writing section was added to the regular SAT. Most schools adjusted pretty quickly to the change, though I have to admit that I never got used to hearing scores cited on the 2400 scale. So now we are poised for another round of changes that will affect students who are starting their junior year in high school and it's time we let them know how we'll be using their scores.

Take a Test

Like most schools, we don't have a preference when it comes to the SAT and ACT. Now, we'll add "New SAT" and "Old SAT" to that statement. We want you to send the results from one of the standardized tests to us, but we don't care if you send the new SAT, the old SAT, or the ACT.

We Look at the Best Combination of Sections

If you send scores from multiple administrations of the same exam, our computer system is programed to pull the best section scores for us to use.When I open an applicant's file, I don't see all of their scores. I just see the best score they've gotten for each section of the exams they submit. I totally made this up, but this is sort of what we see:

If a student sends both the SAT and the ACT, we'll favor the exam with the better score. Using the conversation chart on the ACT website, it looks like the student I made up for my example did a little better on the ACT, so we would pretend that SAT I isn't there. We'll still use the score from the Biology subject test.

The College Board folks have told us that it is not appropriate to mix scores from the old SAT with ones from the new SAT. So, if you opt to take the new and old versions of the SAT, we will see both sets of scores.

Writing/Essay Sections Won't Be Required

Juniors, we are not going to require you to take the essay section of this new SAT. Some day, we might add it back in, but we will wait to see some research about the exam to have that discussion. Because of this, we are going to drop our requirement that students taking the ACT take the writing portion.

Seniors, nothing changes for you. You will take the old SAT, which includes the writing section or you'll take the ACT with Writing.

If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments. You can also read posts I've written about testing in the past by click on the subject labels below.