New SAT exam debuts Saturday at testing sites nationwide

DENVER, Colo. -- The new SAT test debuts Saturday at testing sites across the country. It's the first big change to the standardized test in 30 years.

The revamped version looks far different than the decades-old exam. The old test deducted a quarter of a point for wrong answers, but now students won't get penalized.

"The benefit to students is it allows you to be aggressive," said Dan Koken, President and Founder of Denver Test Prep. "In the past, students would get gun-shy because they were so worried about the penalty. Now, you know you've got to give it a shot. It gives you that approval to power through and try to figure out the question."

Koken tutors students at Arrupe Jesuit High School, and other Denver-area schools, where the ACT is the most prevalent exam. But, with the new changes, the SAT will also be part of the prep work.

"One thing we will have to look at closely for each student is -- will you present better on the ACT or on the SAT?" said Koken.

The changes are in response to age-old complaints about standardized tests, such as time limits.

"Before going into the test, I was really nervous about what was going to be on the test," said Miguel Gonzalez, a senior at Arrupe Jesuit, who took the ACT. "It's much more pressure because you have to finish in a time limit."

The new SAT will give more time for each section and have 16 fewer questions. Another big change involves the essay section, which will be optional and will not count toward the writing score.

"There's a lot of stuff in mathematics I don't know about yet, and you kinda just have to guess," said Mary Mick, a Arrupe Jesuit senior with aspirations of becoming a physical therapist. "With English and writing, it's a little easier."

The downside is the new SAT test will take longer to complete, and, of course, more preparation.

"We'll learn even more once the first score reports come out, which likely won't be released until May," said Koken.

The College Board has practice tests on its website so students can get accustomed to the new format.

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