#CampusChat Q&A: Understanding the New SAT and ACT with Akil Bello

sat actHow are the new SAT and ACT different from the previous version? What changes will benefit the student? How should you prepare for these new tests?

Wednesday’s #CampusChat focused on the new SAT and ACT standardized tests with test prep expert Akil Bello. Akil (@akilbello) is a career test prep teacher and tutor who has spent 25 years helping people prepare for admissions tests. He has trained students for almost all major standardized tests. Akil has helped launch two companies, developed preparation programs for more than ten different high stakes tests, trained hundreds of instructors, and helped thousands of students gain admissions to the schools of their choice.

If your student is taking the test in 2016, this Q&A will help both of you prepare for the test and get some expert tips on how the changes will affect scoring.

Q1 Why are they changing these standardized tests? #CampusChat

A1 @collegeboard says [the SAT] changing to “better reflect what students should be learning in school.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/magazine/the-story-behind-the-sat-overhaul.html?_r=0 #CampusChat

A1 According to ACT, its changes are “to stay relevant and continuously improve” http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2014/06/11/what-students-should-know-about-act-scoring-changes #CampusChat

A1 The more cynical view is that SAT is changing to compete with its rival the ACT which has been taking market share #CampusChat

A1 The truth is that all things change, the SAT has changed many times in its history for many reasons and will probably change again #CampusChat

A1 A bigger issue than why it has changed is how will those changes impact test-takers and what can be done to prepare for the test #CampusChat

Q2 When do these changes take effect? #CampusChat

A2 Changes to the #ACT have been in the process of being phased in since the spring of 2015. The essay change will happen this month i#CampusChat

A2 The changes to the SAT will start with the March 2016 administration. The October 2015 PSAT test will be a preview of the new SAT. #CampusChat

A2 #CampusChat

Q3 What are the major changes coming to the ACT? #CampusChat

A3 The biggest change to the #ACT will be a completely new essay. #CampusChat

A3 The more minor changes is a crapton of subscores will be generated and the reading will include dual passages #CampusChat

A3 #CampusChat

Q4  What are the major changes coming to the SAT? #CampusChat

A4 Here is what the College Board says are the important changes. #CampusChat

A4 Here is what I think are the important changes: #CampusChat

A4 #CampusChat

Q5 What should students know before taking these new tests? #CampusChat

A5 Standardized tests measure performance. Performing well requires practice and preparation #CampusChat

A5 Never go into a test without practicing just like you wouldn’t go to an audition or a tryout without practicing #CampusChat

A5 For the newer tests or question types rely on official materials or established companies materials, random websites/books are inconsistent. #CampusChat

Q6 What tips can you give students to help them with these tests? #CampusChat

A6 These tests test content you *should* have learned in school in ways you may not have learned it. #CampusChat

A6 Students have to prepare the content tested, the manner in which that content is tested, and the structure and format. #CampusChat

A6 Learn alternative strategies, learn to take advantage of the scoring system, learn to deal with time pressure. #CampusChat

Princeton Review is running gives free practice test all year long and has a fall evening going on now: http://www.princetonreview.com/offer/rock-the-test#!Test-ACT

Q7 Do you believe these changes will be advantageous for the student? #CampusChat

A7 Some of the changes will be good (no guessing penalty and “more” time) and some won’t (longer time). (#CampusChat

A7 The hoopla about the changes is much ado about nothing, it will be reminiscent of the Y2K scare. #CampusChat

A7 The changes will be good for some, bad for others and soon enough we’ll return to business as usual. #CampusChat

Q8 Why do so many experts feel the changes are going to harm student performance? #CampusChat

A8 Many of the “experts” cited are not actually expert on the standardized tests or helping student prepare for them

A8 They are wrong. The changes may negatively impact particular students, but the overall averages will likely remain pretty consistent. #CampusChat

A8 I think may of them are looking at descriptions with little understanding of student test-taking. #CampusChat

A8 The reaction to the new tests is like the reaction to changes in scores each year, pointless panic over nothing. #CampusChat

A8 A few good things to read about SAT scores and changes: http://akilbello.com/?p=367

This article by @James_S_Murphy in the WaPo was good “A look at what the new test could look like” http://wpo.st/iwr_0

Asst Prof at Seton Hall @rkelchen Wrote a good piece on how the media misunderstands scores:  https://kelchenoneducation.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/why-sat-scores-going-down-may-be-just-fine/

Q9 How will these changes affect test prep in general? #CampusChat

A9 The changes will impact test prep and students the say way as the Jets getting a new quarterback does…not much #campuschat

A9 The changes are more an issue for adults than for kids. For most kids the “new” test will be the only test they know. #CampusChat

A9 Anything that can be tested can be prepped for, so they’ll be no real changes in prep. #CampusChat

A9 Changes always cause some hiccups for those slow to adapt, libraries or schools with old books might be a problem.#CampusChat

A9 Other than residual old materials messing up some students prep, I don’t think that changes will have much impact. #CampusChat

A9 I wrote a blog about The no-newer-than-any-other-test-you’ve-never-taken SAT http://akilbello.com/?p=262 #campusChat

Q10 Can you give your best advice for preparing for the new tests? #CampusChat

A10 My advice is to start early. Take practice tests to determine which test to focus on and prep if you need it. #CampusChat

A10 I’d also avoid the March 2016 SAT if possible. The first administration of a new test is often chaotic. #CampusChat

A10 Make sure any prep you do includes elements to address the timing of the exams. #CampusChat