State of Michigan Converts to SAT


Dayna Tan

SAT materials in the Adams Counseling Office

Students across the state of Michigan enter their junior year of high school knowing they will have to keep their grades up. They also start thinking about college and anticipate taking the infamous ACT, but next year’s juniors will have a slightly different experience.

The state of Michigan recently switched its state-required, free college entrance exam from the ACT to the SAT. This change will begin in spring 2016 and will affect current high school sophomores.

Michigan chooses its college entrance exam according to the results of a competitive bidding process. By selecting SAT and its $17.1 million, three-year contract, Michigan will save $15.4 million more than if it had chosen ACT, the next highest bidder. SAT also earned 10 percentage points more from the state’s Joint Evaluation Committee, which consists of a high school principal, a local school superintendent, a testing and assessment consultant, and a vice president at a community college.

“We as a district have focused on the ACT, and I think the first couple of years may be chaotic, but once we are used to the change, it will run more smoothly,” said English teacher Ms. Barb Gemellaro.

Adams sophomores have varying reactions to the new change. Some feel strongly about the conversion, while others have not yet heard about it.

“Our grade has gotten the shaft since elementary school. We were the first grade that did not go to Lansing, make Lighthouses, or go to Cedar Point, and now we are the first grade that has to take the SAT,” said sophomore Shelby Smith.

Sophomore Annaclare Censoni agrees with Smith and feels “it is unnecessary,” while sophomore Jon Kmiec does not “really care” about the change.

The main difference between the ACT and SAT is that the ACT is an achievement test, and the SAT is an aptitude test. The ACT tests students on what they have learned in school, with English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing portions. The SAT tests reading and verbal capabilities with three sections that include Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. The SAT penalizes students for incorrect answers, while the ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers.

“I have mixed feelings about the SAT. I have heard that it is harder than the ACT, but I like that there is no science portion because that is not my strongpoint,” said Smith.

While these are the current differences between the two college entrance examinations, according to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Reinvention Blog, “The College Board is in the process of transitioning the SAT examination to a more evidence-based assessment approach that can include multiple item types, beyond multiple-choice. These changes will allow the college entrance examination to be more aligned with Michigan standards.”

The revamped SAT will be introduced in spring 2016, currently leaving educators unsure as of how to prepare sophomores for next year’s testing.

“We have certainly had many questions from students and parents on how to prepare for the SAT. Because the SAT is being redesigned, we are not completely sure yet how students can best prepare. We are telling them to prepare as they would for the ACT, because it will still be good practice,” said Adams counselor Mrs. Christy Clement.

The SAT provides students with free online test preparation through Khan Academy and will also train educators on ways to prepare students and administer the test.

“Once we know the structure of the redesigned SAT, teachers will work to prepare students the best they can. We will probably spend professional development days learning preparation strategies,” said Gemellaro.

While Michigan now mandates students take the SAT, the ACT will not completely disappear. Students may still take the ACT if they choose to do so by registering and paying online, but this does not exempt them from taking the SAT. Michigan will also continue administering the ACT WorkKeys exam, which measures workplace readiness and will cost the state $12.2 million over a three-year contract.

“Counselors are still advising that students take the ACT because it is still a commonly accepted college entrance exam,” said Clement.

Currently, many Michigan colleges accept either the ACT or the SAT as part of their admission requirements. Some of these colleges include the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and Central Michigan University. While they accept either test, both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University require writing scores as well.

While Michigan’s change may come as a surprise, sophomores can take time this year to prepare for the SAT and be ready for testing by the time next Spring comes along!

For more information, visit the post on Governor Rick Snyder’s Reinvention Blog answering frequently asked questions regarding the change.