Admissions | Web Update

SAT changes to compete with ACT, makes essay optional

Published: March 19, 2014, 5:26 pm ET
Collegian Reporter

March 5, the College Board revealed new changes to the SAT that will make the test more in sync with high school curriculum and more focused on important academic skills.

The new SAT will first be offered in spring 2016. According to the New York Times, among the changes to the new test are making the essay portion optional, removing obscure vocabulary words, returning to the 1,600-point grading scale and removing the ¼-point deduction for incorrect answers.

The SAT is changing in order to keep up with its competitor, the ACT. The new test will “ask students to apply a deep understanding of the few things shown by current research to matter most for college readiness and success,” according to the College Board website.

There will be three sections in the new test: evidence-based reading and writing, math and essay. School districts and colleges the students apply to will decide whether the essay will be required.

“I applaud The College Board’s intent to design a test that is more aligned with what high school students are learning,” Gil Villanueva, dean of admissions, said.

The University of Richmond requires all first-year applicants to submit either all three sections of the SAT, which includes the essay, or the ACT.

For the class of 2018, 67 percent submitted SAT scores and 33 percent submitted ACT scores. Of the ACT group, 37 percent submitted only the ACT scores and 63 percent submitted both ACT and SAT, Villanueva said.

Freshman Louisa Boliver said she had submitted the SAT with her application but had never taken the ACT.

“I definitely think that these tests should be required since every school has its own unique way of testing its students, and therefore these tests offer a more universal way of evaluating prospective students,” she said.

Villanueva said, in 2009, a committee was formed to assess the possibility of implementing a test-optional admission policy for undergraduate admission.

However, after review, the committee decided to continue with the existing requirement for first-years to submit either the SAT or ACT.

Contact reporter Mary Rossiter at

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