Michigan switches to the SAT


Jordan Revenaugh

Years of ACT prep and money spent on study materials are now for naught as Michigan switches to the SAT

Jordan Revenaugh, Staff Writer

          Junior year is traditionally considered to be the toughest year of high school. For most juniors, it is the year of stress, the year to raise one’s grade point average, and the year when all students embark upon the adventure of preparing for the ACT. While two of these points still reign true for this year’s junior class, the third is now slightly different. Michigan has recently adopted the SAT as the new statewide college entrance exam.

        The sudden shift to the SAT is thanks in part to the financial savings which will be implemented along with the new test. By signing a three-year contract with the SAT worth 17.1 million dollars, the state will save nearly 15.4 million.

        As spring, and inevitably SAT time, approaches, students are beginning to prepare and are not afraid to share their opinions in regards to the change.

        “I think it’s a little unfair because we’ve been geared toward ACT style questions and now we have to take the SAT,” said junior Zach Boyle. “I understand that it’s cheaper for the state, and it’s more of a standard test in the country, but there is variation between the styles of the two tests and it could hurt the students’ scores.”

        Junior Nikki Schipperijn agrees. “We’ve learned how to take the ACT our whole lives and now we have to make an adjustment to the switch. It isn’t just us; colleges have to make that adjustment too,” Schipperijn said.

        While colleges within the state of Michigan are used to seeing a majority of ACT scores as opposed to SAT scores, the SAT is nothing new to them, and it will change little, if anything, when it comes to admissions. In reality, although the change may seem monumental for colleges as well as students, schools have been receiving SAT scores from out-of-state students for years.

Although the recent switch requires students to take the SAT at least once, it does not require them to send their scores to colleges. When it comes time to decide which test score to send in, it is recommended that students choose their highest test score, whether it be from the ACT or the SAT.

        That being said, if the effect the change has on colleges is minimal, what is left to be determined is what the effect will be for students.

        One of the hardest adjustments students will have to make is conforming to a different style of testing. Since middle school, students have been molded to the format of the ACT. While the ACT and the traditional SAT remain remarkably different, the redesign of the SAT, which will first be seen with the test date in March, will make the adjustment somewhat easier for students.

What remains significantly different is the writing portion of the exam. Similar to the ACT,  the writing portion on the new SAT is optional; however, the style of question asked by the SAT is remarkably different from the ACT. Rather than being based upon opinion, like the ACT, the SAT writing is based upon prior knowledge and facts learned in school.  

“The ACT would ask students to basically write an argumentative essay. The new SAT asks students to analyze the persuasive devices the author uses to argue a point.  This new format does not want students to critique the argument, which many students are used to doing.  Instead, they don’t want to know your opinion; they’re just asking what devices the author uses to support the argument,” said English teacher Mrs. Colleen Winkler.

There are also differences in the scoring. “Previously, one of the big differences was the penalty for guessing on the SAT, but they’ve taken that away. They’ve reduced the number of choices down to four, so it’s going to be more similar to the ACT,” said counselor Mrs. Christy Clement.

“They’ve also added a science portion, and social studies questions are embedded throughout the test,” counselor Mr. Barry Freund added.

        Even with these changes implemented by the redesign of the exam, the differences between the two tests are minimal.

        “The biggest impact for students is that it’s a different setup. They might not feel comfortable taking it, and there are some nerves that could go along with that,” said Clement.

        Although it is only required that students take one exam, it is still advised that they take both.

“Both the SAT and the ACT are college reportable, so as far as that piece goes there’s no difference. Colleges almost everywhere are going to take either, especially in the state of Michigan. So it’s to the students benefit to take both, just because they’re more prepared to take the ACT,” said Clement.

        As for preparing for the SAT, students can continue to take classes and do practice. Moreover, Adams is offering a practice SAT for juniors on Election Day. There is no school that day, but all juniors are welcome to come in and take a practice exam.

In the end, it is apparent that the switch to the SAT might present some challenges in the beginning, but in time it is expected to pay off, both literally and figuratively.