New details on coming SAT changes, local educators weigh in

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News 12 This Morning/Friday May 2, 2014

(WRDW)--South Aiken High School enjoyed the highes SAT scores in our area last year and David Mihoulides, an English teacher there, has helped hundred of students prepare for the SAT's in the past.

"We try to structure it as close to the SAT as possible. We'd only offer the class at 8 o'clock in the morning when the SAT takes place," he explained. "And on average kids would go up about 175 points on the SAT."

But since the College Board announced new SAT changes in March, many 9th and 10th grade students and their parents have wondered what's in store.

"Once 2016 comes around, they're going to go ahead and get rid of the writing portion of it [making it optional]," said Mihoulides. "As far as the vocabulary is concerned, they're going to go ahead and make it more 'workable vocabulary' as opposed to words that kids have never seen in their entire lives."

After five years in the guidance department at South Aiken High, Tracie McBride says she agrees that the major changes of making the essay optional, bringing the test back to a 1600 point scale and making the vocabulary more practical will help students.

"I think we have to make it relevant for kids," said McBride. "I don't think it's dumbing it down. I think it's just bringing it into this century."

In the last few weeks the College Board has released more details on the changes.

Here's what we know now:

It'll be 5 minutes longer than the current test time for students who opt to write the essay, but they'll get 50 minutes instead of the current 25 minutes to write their essay.

The new reading section will include laddered questions, which means those those answers will be based on answers to previous questions.

And for part of the math portion, students will no longer be allowed to use calculators.

Although some may see these changes as challenging, McBride says she still feels students can benefit.

"I think we're seeing an evolution in test taking," she said. "I think ultimately it comes down to the rigor of the classes."

Both Mihoulides and McBride say they're already helping prepare the younger classes for the new test, which rolls out in the spring of 2016.

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