College-bound high-school students are busy this time of year finalizing their applications and hoping for admission to the college or university of their choice. One part of their preparation’s undergoing a big change — the Scholastic Aptitude Test, known simply as the S-A-T. Don Bishop is associate Vice-President for enrollment at Creighton University, and says the reading part of the test has been changed.Instead of being asked what was said in what they’ve read, they’re asked what it means — a test of their analytical thinking ability. There’s a new essay test in both the SAT and ACT test, and he thinks it’ll help colleges to see something students sat down and wrote with no outside influence, to assess their writing skills and their “depth of thought.” He doesn’t think the new essay test will change who’s admitted to college, but it will give administrators a better idea of what skills they have. That way, schools can make sure freshmen get the additional training that will help them overcome the big adjustment to post-secondary education. Bishop says the college entrance exam is NOT the single big factor they use to choose who gets in and who’s turned away. He knows high-schoolers think it’s very important, but ACT and SAT scores are not as important as high school performance and grade-point average. Bishop says high schools vary widely in the way they hand out academic grades. A three-point five grade point average might be the equivalent of a three-eight at another school, so a low GPA combined with high SAT scores might tell admissions officials the student is not poor, they just attend a tougher school. Bishop’s been doing admissions for 20 years and says he’s probably read fifty-thousand applications, and understands how some students may not test well, but still be a well-rounded student with a good chance at getting into college.
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