Not Your Parents’ SAT…

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The New SAT and What You Need To Know

Writer  /  Janelle Morrison

Photographer  /  JJ Kaplan

The agony of taking the SAT® is a rather distant memory for some. Unfortunately for the Class of 2017, the preparation for the new SAT format may be even more daunting, and how university admissions offices nationwide will value the scores is still rather ambiguous.

The College Board announced in March 2014 that it was redesigning the SAT. It released an initial 211-page overview that is a work in progress. The redesigned SAT will place greater emphasis on reasoning, analyzing data and critical thinking. The test will incorporate a “rights-only” scoring in which a student will earn points for correct answers with no penalty for incorrect answers. The current SAT penalizes the student 1/4 point for each incorrect answer.

The new SAT will have two math sections, one calculator section and one no-calculator section, and will have an emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing as opposed to the current critical reading, writing, math and essay sections, to name just a few of the format changes.


Kurt Spitler, owner and executive director of the Huntington Center

Kurt Spitler, owner and executive director of the Huntington Center, located in Carmel, is prepping students for the current SAT format for this fall while preparing parents and students for the new SAT that will take effect in March of 2016.

“If you are a senior in high school now, the changes in the SAT won’t affect you,” Spitler explained. “If you are a junior in the 2014-2015 school year, the current SAT is available only through January 2016 of your senior year. However, for sophomores, you have three options. You can either prepare to take the current SAT this fall in October, November, December or January; secondly, prepare for the ACT only; or your third option is to be the ‘guinea pig’ and wait to take the new SAT in March.

“Now if your child wants to get into the IU Kelley School of Business, a nationally renowned business school, you can go on their website, and it will tell you what GPA, SAT or ACT score you currently need to get direct admittance into their school, though there is nothing on their website that tells you what score you will need with the new SAT.

“A perfect SAT score is currently 2400, and it is going down to 1600, the way that it used to be in 2005. I have contacted many universities and asked if they will still superscore the old SAT and for how long. I have also inquired about what are they planning to do for the new SAT, and the response is yes, they plan to superscore the old SAT, but regarding the new SAT, they ‘don’t know.’”

It is unknown at this point how the universities are going to emphasize or value the new SAT when they are looking at seats available for that coming year. By this July, Spitler and his instructors will have all new curricula to prepare students for the spring SAT and the October PSAT that will both be in administered in the new format.

Currently 95 percent of the schools throughout the U.S. superscore the SAT. They take the best critical reading, math and writing scores from multiple SATs of an individual student and then extract these best scores into one superscore.

“They’re not going to be able to superscore the new SAT with the old one,” Spitler emphasized. “They haven’t alerted us as to when they’re going to stop. Last year, Michigan and Ohio State stopped superscoring because of what was coming up in 2016. How many other Big Ten schools are going to follow?”

The instructors at Huntington Learning Center are ahead of the curve and are preparing students for the changes while continuing to prepare the students who are able to take the old SAT before March.

So why is SAT changing? “SAT and ACT are competing organizations,” Spitler said. “The ACT has become more prevalent among students looking at higher education options. Typically what we do when a student comes in to our facility, we will give them a practice SAT test and a practice ACT. The ‘practice’ ACT is a retired real test used and not a Huntington test.

“We will compare those two tests on a national basis and see where they are starting out higher. Some students will be about equal, and some will see a huge delta with one test over the other. Both the SAT and ACT are approved by the universities, and 99 percent of them, including Ivy League schools, accept both.”

The Huntington system has become a proven method of tutoring and preparation because each program is based upon the individual student. Dr. Raymond and Eileen Huntington in New Jersey founded it in 1977. Spitler purchased the Carmel franchise three-and-a-half years ago from its original owner, and their location has been operating for 11 years.

“The Huntington system is amazing, and it’s all in how we do it,” Spitler expressed. “Everything that we do here is individualized, and we focus on each student. We are not a crutch, and we are not here to help a student with their homework. Our purpose is to increase their skill sets. If we increase their skill sets, their confidence is going to go up, and if they are confident, they are going to be more motivated.”

The Huntington Center provides subject tutoring in multiple subjects, such as reading, writing, mathematics, spelling, vocabulary, study skills, phonics, algebra, SAT/ACT test prep, state testing and high school entrance exam preparation.

For more information about the center and the upcoming SAT/ACT schedules, visit