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New SAT Ditches 'Obscure' Words

College Board releases sample questions, more info
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2014 7:50 AM CDT
New SAT Ditches 'Obscure' Words
College Board President David Coleman attends an announcement event March 5, 2014, in Austin, Texas, where College Board officials announced updates for the SAT college entrance exam.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The new SAT, coming in 2016, will be more geared toward real-world applications—which means, among other things, that it's bidding adieu to "obscure" vocabulary words. Taking their place: "high-utility" words. The College Board today released 211 pages of info designed to give students "everything [they need] to know to walk into that test and not be surprised," says the chief of assessment. An example of what to expect from the three-hour test, which is reverting to the 1600-point scale, per the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the AP:

  • The breakdown: 65 minutes for 52 critical reading questions, 35 minutes for 44 written language questions, and 80 minutes for 57 math questions.
  • Vocab example: After reading a passage about an "intense" clustering of jobs, students will be asked whether "intense" most nearly means "emotional," "brilliant," "determined," or (correct answer) "concentrated."
  • Reading example: a passage from a congresswoman's 1974 speech during President Nixon's impeachment hearings; associated questions ask students to describe her stance and the passage's main rhetorical effect.
  • Math example: Students will have to calculate the cost of converting dollars to Indian rupees.
  • Every test will have a question based on one of the US founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence.
  • Words students likely won't need to memorize anymore: "obsequious," "propinquity," "enervation," "lachrymose."
Click for more on the test, which will no longer include a mandatory essay; it's optional now. (Read more SAT stories.)

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