SAT replaces ACT next year

Alana Carl, Staff Reporter

As of Jan. 27, the mandatory college entrance exam for high school juniors will now be the SAT.   This change will not affect the current juniors, only the current sophomores and all incoming juniors from this day forward.   Since 2007, the ACT was the go-to test for Michigan lawmakers to give to high school juniors.  The test will replace the ACT, and will be given in the spring of 2016.  RHS principal Pete Hedemark said the sudden change, while unexpected, is still fair to the students.

“There might be some differences, there might be some changes in some of it, but I think we have enough time to prepare for it,” Hedemark said.                                                   According to, the unexpected change came when the College Board (the maker and owner of the SAT) and the ACT had a bid-off to determine who will test an average of 115,000 Michigan juniors for free. The SAT won the bid and got a three-year contract with the state of Michigan, at a cost of $17.1 million. The ACT lost the bid with the test costing $15.4 million more than its counterpart.  Even with the loss, the ACT will still have a form of a place in Michigan testing rooms. Their work skills assessment will still be in use, costing the state $12.2 million.

For the sophomores who may feel overwhelmed with the different test coming their way, Hedemark held firm in his belief that any disadvantage is evened out, at least in Michigan and that a college entrance is just that, a college entrance exam and nothing more.

“A college entrance is a college entrance exam, just like a math exam is a math exam,” Hedemark said.

The SAT not only had a better price tag, it also won points with its focus on “Common Core,” the new curriculum being implemented, including in Roseville Community Schools.  Worth noting, the SAT is changing its test format to better accommodate “Common Core” standards for the 2016 school year.  Next spring, College Board plans to give out free test prep and online tests for both schools and students.  As for prep for Roseville High school, Hedemark, said that a college entrance prep entrance exam class will be in the schedule for next year, and stated that there will continue to be a college readiness class, which will focus on entrance exams skills that could be applied to either exams, but the school district will be looking for specific test taking tips as more information becomes available.

According to the most notable difference in the SAT is that wrong answers will no longer count against students.  The SAT will now be like the ACT in that aspect.  The range for scoring will change from 600-2400 to 400-1600.  Instead of the time allotted being 3 hours and 45 minutes (including 20 minutes for essay), it will now be 3 hours (50 minutes allowed for optional essay).  The SAT still remains less time-pressuring than the ACT.

True to Common Core standards, there is also a new test portion called “Evidence Based Reading and Writing;” students will be required to read texts, analyze, and correct information in the readings so that is corresponds to that of graphs provided.  That portion of the test will include science and social studies.  Unlike before, the math portion of the test will sample trigonometry questions and more complex math than the ACT on a test portion called “Additional Topics In Math”.  For students attached to their calculators, the SAT is curving the behavior, requiring students to do a calculator-free math portion answering 20 questions in 25 minutes.

Last, the SAT is trying to dismantle the test mantra of learning words to only forget them once the pencils are down, trying to test  fluency in “real-world” vocabulary.   Although, one thing remains the same between both tests: the English part.   According to, the SAT changed its format to look more like the ACT.

The president of College Board, David Coleman, made the changes with low-income students in mind.  By testing actual classrooms lessons, rather than gimmicky test practices found in expensive test prep books and classrooms, he hopes to help low-income students excel. Coleman makes a commitment to tell everyone exactly what is on the test and in partnership with Khan Academy, offers free test prep to any students willing, as noted in a web-broadcast to address the new SAT changes.                               “We aim to offer real challenges, not artificial obstacles,” Coleman said.

Recently, the ACT lost an appeal to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).  According to, Catherine Dunn, assistant vice president of state and strategic accounts at ACT, said that because they submitted a version of their test that included the optional essay, their bid was higher than the SAT who only included the testing portion.  Jeff Brownlee, chief procurement said that their argument had no basis in a letter correspondence, and notes the primary reasons for the decision for the change was the price tag and common core standards, as reported in

According to, critics believe that the changes to the SAT, making it a comparable harder test come because of the SAT trying to make itself the “it” test. Regardless of the test students will be taking, Hedemark is adamant that hard work matters more, and students should focus more on what is their control.

 “Whether it is the SAT or the ACT, students need to focus on what they can control. They can control how they hard they work, how much they prepare, and they can control their attitude towards the test. Those three things will have more bearings on their success than anything else,”