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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: SAT

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April 16, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Quiz: Try out new SAT questions

The College Board has released a series of sample questions for the new SAT, set to roll out in 2016.

Among other changes, the new SAT will do away with obscure vocabulary words, and the essay requirement will become optional. Wrong answers will no longer be penalized.

Curious how the new test stacks up against your recollection of the SAT? Try out a few sample questions in our quiz:

Sample questions from the new SAT

On Wednesday, the College Board released sample questions for the redesigned SAT, set to roll out in 2016. Try your hand at some of the questions by taking our quiz.


Comments | More in News | Topics: SAT, standardized tests

March 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Anxious about the SAT? More colleges say ‘don’t worry about it’

Almost anyone who has applied to college can trot out a horror story about the much-dreaded Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT. The four-hour, fill-in-the-bubble test of math and reading skills has spawned innumerable opinion pieces, diatribes and nightmares.

There’s even a book, The Perfect Score Project, by Debbie Stier, a single mom and public relations professional who took the exam seven times (surely an exercise in masochism), trying to achieve a perfect 2400. Stier’s book is filled with tips for improving student scores, most of which boil down to one unsurprising adage: Study more.

Yet anyone who has flipped through an SAT-prep booklet knows there are easy strategies for gaming the test — techniques that can dramatically improve one’s score, as described here, by Education Lab opinion columnist Dennis McDuffie, a high school senior in Richland, Wash.

Likewise, educators across the country insist that the SAT is a poor measure of student aptitude or likely college success — a backlash that gained more credence after a recent SAT-overhaul by the College Board, which is trying to better align it with classroom curricula.


Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, SAT, standardized tests

March 18, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Guest: Playing by the rules of the SAT game

Dennis McDuffie

Dennis McDuffie

On the surface, the SAT makes sense. In an era where standardized testing has become the focal point of American education, requiring tests for college admission seems logical. But what does this exam really measure?

Some universities argue that SAT scores directly correlate with success in college, but far too many students are exceptions to this generalization. The test material measures how well students can follow the rules of a game, which is not relevant to success beyond the testing room.

Unlike college, the test requires little critical thinking and primarily assesses students’ ability to withstand six hours of purposefully deceiving questions. Those who can readily detect deceptive responses are not necessarily any smarter than those who fall for the occasional trick. I can testify to this statement from my own experience.

After three SAT tests and three SAT subject tests, I have both lost and won in this game. I took the SAT last May and again in June, and my cumulative score increased an insignificant 10 points the second time. My scores were well above average, but I did not attain the level necessary for the highly selective colleges on my list.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: guest opinion, higher ed, SAT

February 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Grades predict college success more than test scores, study says

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

When it comes to success in college, a  new study again raises questions about whether college-entrance exams such as the SAT predict how well students will do.

The study’s authors examined the records of 123,000 students at 33 colleges that don’t require students to submit test scores when they apply for admission.  They compared the 70 percent of students who chose to submit their scores to the 30 percent who did not, and found no significant differences in the college grade-point averages or graduation rates between the two groups.

Students’ high-school grades were much better predictors of performance, the study’s authors said.

The report was welcome news for those who support test-optional policies, including Washington State University in Pullman, which says it was one of the largest test-optional public universities in the study.


Comments | Topics: college admissions, college-entrance exams, higher ed