Presenting the new SAT

The College Board today is releasing new guidelines for the vocabulary portion of its test, which many high schoolers have to take to prove to colleges and universities that they are worthy.

Gone are the days of memorizing words and definitions. Context is in. says the emphasis will now be on Tier 2 words.

Tier One words are those that kids will encounter naturally as they’re beginning to talk, like mother, ball, cup, food, run, walk, sit or bed. Tier Three words usually teach a new concept, are relevant only in a particular discipline and have one meaning, like isotope or asphalt or even piano. The Tier Two words go across domains and might have many meanings in different contexts. They appear more in text than in conversation, and they repackage concepts a child could understand on a basic level with more nuance.

Here’s a sample of a new question:

The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.
As used in line 55, “intense” most nearly means
A) emotional.
B) concentrated.
C) brilliant.
D) determined.

By definition, “intense” could mean all of those answers. But in context, there’s only one true definition.

It’s not just vocabulary getting a makeover. Math is getting a scrubbing, too. This is one of the new sample questions:

The toll rates for crossing a bridge are $6.50 for a car and $10 for a truck. During a two-hour period, a total of 187 cars and trucks crossed the bridge, and the total collected in tolls was $1,338. Solving which of the following systems of equations yields the number of cars, x, and the number of trucks, y, that crossed the bridge during the two hours?
a) x + y = 1,338; 6.5x + 10y = 187
b) x + y = 187; 6.5x + 10y = 1,338/2
c) x + y = 187; 6.5x + 10y = 1,338
d) x + y = 187; 6.5x + 10y = 1,338 x 2

The new test will provide four possible answers instead of five. The essay portion will be 50 minutes instead of 25, and the math section is 10 minutes longer (80 minutes).

Oh, and no calculators.

The SAT has been losing market share to the ACT, the Washington Post says.

But the National Center for Fair and Open Testing calls the changes “cosmetic.”

Here’s the entire rollout.

  • jon

    B and C

    35 trucks and 152 cars.

    • kcmarshall

      Dang, you beat me to it.

    • David

      They didn’t ask for the answer of cars and trucks therefore you wasted time on a timed test answering a question that wasn’t asked and you wouldn’t get credit for.