Students Prepare For Major Changes To SAT

"The California schools had threatened to pull out of using the SAT and go pretty exclusively to the ACT, if there were not changes made," Pam Bohn, an SAT prep teacher at TISD, said.

So beginning next March, students will take the new SAT, with new types of questions, a new section, and even a new scoring system.

More than 130 Tyler area high school students are taking a prep course this summer at Robert E. Lee. They're striving for the perfect score: not 1600, but 2400.

"It is a lot of stress," Jessica Williams, a rising junior at REL, said.

"Pretty important," Chris Gass, a rising junior at REL, said. "I got to get into a good school."

Unlike the old SAT, the Math section on the new test will also include Algebra II. But quantitative comparisons will be history. So will analogies in the Verbal section, which has a new name: the Critical Reading section. That's because the new SAT will have more reading comprehension passages. And a third section new to the SAT: Writing -- testing grammar and essay writing.

"Don't like it," Gass said. "I don't like to write. And they don't give us enough time."

"The writing, I think, is excellent to add," Bohn said. "We need to be focusing on those writing skills. I hate to see the other skills go away though."

Namely, the analogies.

"I prepared for that," Stephanie Idio, a rising senior at REL, said. "And since it's not going to be on there, it's going to be a bummer."

"They're trying to take the test and make it into more of a content-driven test as opposed to a logic-driven test," Eli Crow, an SAT prep teacher at TISD, said. "Really, I think, making it more along the lines of the ACT."

There are plenty of study aids in the bookstore students can buy for the SAT. But most of them are outdated. So you should look for a title that says 'The New SAT.'

Today's students have a range of options to prepare for the new test, whether it's hitting the books, taking practice tests, organizing a study group, or taking a prep course.

Seniors graduating next year can still take the old SAT. But the class of 2006 will have to take the new one.

Julie Tam, reporting.