by Jakob Cole

High school juniors here and around the country are adjusting to a new, redesigned SAT test. On March 5, a major change to the long standing test went into effect. This marks the first overhaul in format to the SAT since 2005.

While there are many new changes to the test, the most discussed change is the optional essay that is offered. Previously, students were given a mandatory 25 minute essay section that accounted as a portion of the writing component. The new format allows the students the opportunity to take a 50 minute essay section, but it is not mandatory. “I’m definitely happy that I have the choice whether to do the essay or not,” said junior Kevin Flores. “It takes some stress out of it.”

Students will also not be tested on the obscure vocabulary words they previously had to study for. New vocabulary words will be more “relevant” and “widely used words and phrases found in texts in many different subjects.” This change will allow students to apply their knowledge of this vocabulary into their high school and college careers, as opposed to forgetting the obscure words as soon as they leave the test. “Learning the vocabulary was the hardest part of that process. I’m glad they changed that rule to allow students to use more accessible words,” said senior John Griffin.

Similar to the ACT, the SAT has adopted the policy of not penalizing guessing. As opposed to receiving ¼ point off for every wrong answer, students will now have the ability to guess their best choice without fear of penalization.

A survey done by Kaplan Test Prep showed that students thought highly of the new changes. The survey taken of over 500 teens showed that 59% of students believed that the test questions were straightforward and relatively easy to follow. Even though the new format allows for an optional essay, 85% of test takers opted to write the essay.

Through listening to student and college suggestions, it seems as though College Board has crafted an SAT that the public will accept for years to come.