By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for college students. Now the iconic exam is getting a substantial makeover. That means filling out all these little bubbles with a Number 2 pencil will require some different strategies than in the past.

“There are some people who really like the changes. There are some people like myself who like some of the changes, and other changes are not good,” said David Benjamin Gruenbaum, author of Ahead of the Class, a new preparatory book for the revised exam.

One of the goals is to get the content of the test more in line with what kids are actually learning in school. Current Boston-area college students think that is a good idea. One said it will make the SAT less stressful. Another remarked that the old test didn’t feel very relevant due to things like obscure vocabulary words.

The essay is now moving to the end of the test and will be optional.

Scoring will revert back to a maximum of 1600 points, instead of the current 2400 points.

Drew Heilpern of the Summit Educational Group in Newton said another substantial change is how wrong answers will be assessed. Currently, every wrong answer results in the loss of a quarter point. Now the so-called “guess penalty” is going away.

The new test will be implemented in the spring of 2016. Heilpern said rising seniors and juniors will not see the changes.

“Rising sophomores or younger, those are the ones that will be affected,” said Heilpern.

Gruenbaum said competitive pressures forced the hand of the College Board, the organization responsible for the SAT.

“There are now more people taking the ACT than the SAT so the College Board felt they needed to make a change,” said Gruenbaum.

Parents can help their kids keep things in perspective by reminding them this is just one test, advised Heilpern.

“Colleges really do look at many factors,” said Heilpern. “They look at GPA. They look at the rigor of curriculum. They look at how well you do in school. Extra-curriculars. They do weigh all of this.”


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