The Boston Globe recently called on Joy St. John, Wellesley’s dean of admission and financial aid, for insight on the revised SAT, which will begin to be administered in March 2016. As the paper reported, “The College Board has redesigned the college readiness exam to better reflect what students are learning in school.”
Among the changes is a return to the 1,600 scale for scoring, rather than the 2,400 scale used since 2005. The penalty for wrong answers will be removed. Instead, students will be encouraged to select what they think is the best answer to every question. Equally significant, the essay portion will be optional, not mandatory, and the vocabulary section will no longer include obscure words.
Though the changes sound positive, high-school students across the country are feeling anxious, the Globe reported, because they don’t know what to expect, and many colleges are still deciding which version of the SAT they will require. The Globe asked St. John for her perspective. Her answer: “We want students to take the test when they feel prepared, and the test they think they are going to be the most comfortable taking.”
St. John also told the paper she is hopeful that the College Board took feedback from students and colleges seriously, and that the revised test will “have value in terms of helping colleges determine whether students were prepared for college academically,” she said. She also said she hopes “the actual preparation for the test would have real value and that students would be developing skills they’d use in college rather than just studying to pass a test.”
St. John is not the first Wellesley director of admission to weigh in on the SAT. Mary Ellen Crawford Ames ’40, who served as longtime director of admission beginning in 1969, was a trustee of the College Entrance Examination Board from 1973-1977 and helped to determine its policies.
Ames was also a member of the Scholastic Aptitude Test Committee, an advisory group that developed content for the SAT after taking the test themselves. As Ames told Wellesley’s alumnae magazine in 1978, those experiences “opened doors of information” for her, and helped her perform her most important task, bringing to Wellesley “the number and quality of students we deserve and who deserve us.”
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