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
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)

(Newser) – 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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