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3 Gainesville High students mostly give thumbs up to new SAT
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Three high school students agree the new SAT is difficult in math, and it also no longer penalizes students for guessing on the test.

“The new SAT is more aligned to the Common Core standards and to what students will encounter when they go to college,” said Laurie Ecke, assistant director of Innovative and Advanced Programs for Hall County Schools.

Ecke outlined changes in the test. She said the essay was required and now is optional. The scoring now is 400 to 1600, similar to the original SAT.

The test now has no penalty for guessing, points had been subtracted for wrong answers previously.

“I believe this will help to reduce the stress of the SAT for our students. Instead of wondering whether they should guess or not, students can approach the SAT with more confidence in their answers,” Ecke said.

The revised SAT was first given to students March 5. Three Gainesville High School students talked about that experience.

Taking the test in early March were Charters Embry, a junior; Amin Rucker, senior; and Darlyn Ramirez, sophomore.

All three agreed the math portion of the test was the most difficult. It was in two parts, Charters pointed out — one with a calculator and one without.

“Math was the hardest,” Amin declared. She said the test started with easier questions and got progressively more difficult.

She noted that questions sometimes included formulas that were useful only “if you know how to use them properly.”

She said she has taken four years of math, but she sometimes wondered “did I ever learn this?” Amin said the pressure of a timed test may have caused that.

The math portions two parts were 20 questions in 25 minutes with a calculator and 30 questions in 45 minutes with no calculator.

Darlyn said she took the test because “I wanted to see how it was — see what I have to learn more.” She said she would “take one more math class, maybe two.”

Amin and Darlyn said they would study more if they were to retake the SAT.

Darlyn said she sometimes “just don’t pay a lot of attention in class — then on the test I realized, ‘Oh, my, I should have paid more attention.’”

Amin said she did not study at all. “I probably should have studied.” Charters agreed, saying she should have “prepared a little more.”

Darlyn said a good night’s sleep and breakfast would be helpful for anyone taking the test. She said she had neither.

When asked if she was hungry, she responded, “Oh, my, gosh.”

The new test for math is “more similar to what students have encountered in math classes and the type of math they will see in college,” Ecke said in an email.

The new version also uses vocabulary words and phrases from different subjects, words students are likely to use in college and a career, she said.

The older version has “logic type questions that students may not have seen in math classes,” Ecke explained.

The girls all noted the test is lengthy, lasting more than four hours.

Charters, the only one who took the older version, said she “thought it (the new one) was a lot better.”

She said the new SAT is “more similar” to the ACT, which she has taken three times. She also said the new SAT is “a little more challenging” than previously.

“I really liked how this SAT started with reading,” she said. Having that portion first “made it easier for me to finish on time.”

She explained reading had been at the end of the test, and by the time she reached it, she was tired.

Charters said she took the tests multiple times to try to improve her scores and “give me more options.”

Students may go to to take a practice test and then access tutorials.

Dawn Jordan, dean of instruction at Gainesville High School, pointed out that students may get a “very individualized” study guide through Khan Academy if they take the PSAT in the fall.

She said that test is given in October and students can tell the College Board to send those results to Khan Academy.

The SAT, Jordan said, “worked really hard in assisting students in being prepared” for the test.

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