Why is the College Board doing this?
Universities have long noted that the SAT is not a reliable predictor of future collegiate performance. Therefore, the College Board has been under pressure to create a new version of the test that more accurately reflects a student’s ability to succeed on the next level. That’s why they’ve expanded the Critical Reading portion of the test and added the Writing section.
We think they’re on the right track. Every college student—even future doctors, engineers, and physicists—needs to read books, compose term papers, and spit out handwritten answers to exam questions. Adjusting the SAT to take this into account is a positive, if painful, step.
Does the Writing section really count?
Yes. Some colleges have been slow to add the 800-point Writing section to their official admissions policy. However, many colleges--including Penn State--have now decided to use the new 2400-point scale. By next year, we expect that almost all universities will have made this transition.
In any event, even colleges that won’t count the Writing score see their applicants’ Writing scores and actual essays. Consider this—along with the fact college is all about reading and writing—and you will understand why PREPARE feels that Writing is the most important section on the SAT.
Isn’t the essay unfair?
Not really. The essay topic may be dull and the grading system—whole numbers from 1 to 6—unsubtle. But it’s pretty accurate. If a student can write well, she will get a decent essay grade. Simple enough.
Also, students should keep in mind that the essay is only 30% of the Writing grade (which is just one of three sections on the New SAT) and, thus, only worth about 12% of a student’s overall score. So students should worry more about improving their grammar skills and less about the ‘unfair’ essay.