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Local students and college administrators react to SAT overhaul

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Local students and college administrators are reacting to major changes to the SAT college entrance exam, and a former New Orleanian will have a big role to play in preparing students nationwide for the revised test.

On the campus of Tulane University, and Loyola right next door, many students said they took the SAT before entering college, and some are not exactly fans.

"I didn't like it very much, I preferred the ACT," said Tulane student Taylor McCrady.

Come 2016, the SAT will be transformed. For starters, there will no longer be extra penalties for wrong answers on the test. Loyola student Josh Clemons likes that idea.

"I think that's great, I think it's kind of messed up to penalize for things someone may or may not have learned in school," he said.

The essay portion of the SAT will also be optional.

"I do have a feeling that it's going to give us a better sense of a student's critical thinking skills and their ability to succeed on our campus," said Tulane's Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Faye Tydlaska.

The top score will be 1,600 with a separate score for the essay, compared with the current possible total of 2,400. The test can be taken on paper or online. Vocabulary words on the test will be those used in classroom and work settings, replacing more obscure wording.

At Loyola, administrators were giving the revisions high marks.

"To use words that are more appropriate to today's style of speaking and writing and the really important piece, [students will] no longer be penalized for wrong answers, which was actually trying to get students to psyche out the exam instead of answering based on their own knowledge basis," said Loyola Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management Roberta Kaskel.

A former New Orleanian will help students prepare for the new SAT. Sal Khan, who grew up in the city and founded the wildly popular online Khan Academy will provide free interactive test prep for the SAT starting next year. The free tutorials are expected to help make low-income students more competitive in taking the test.

"There was clearly a distinction between the students who could afford years or months of preparation for this one particular test, and now at least it opens the door for a lot of students who may not have necessarily had that preparation before," said Tydlaska.

"So it really is a boon for high school students and their families," Kaskel said.

"I think the idea of making the SAT a little more like the ACT might be a good idea," said Tulane student Derek Breaux.


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