The SAT is changing...
This was huge.
Since about 10% of US college applicants apply to the UC schools each year, the College Board took the threat of losing that many students (*cough* that much money *cough*) very seriously. They promised to create a better test, one that would be less coach-able and provide more meaningful insights into a college applicant's portfolio. No need to get rid of the SAT, UC. You have forced our hand and we will work very hard to create a brand new test.
Big promises of sweeping changes were soon followed by a collective, "Seriously? Is that it?" All they did was take the SAT II Writing Test, which was an hour long and consisted of an essay and multiple-choice grammar questions, and duct taped it to the old test. Sure, they got rid of some of the more blatantly unfair questions such as analogies and quantitative comparisons (students struggled with the format of these as much as they did the actual content), but the test didn't change all that much. School noticed; that's why, even today, most don't care too much about the Writing section, even ten years later.
Fast forward to today. The SAT is feeling pressure from another direction. 2014 was the first year in which more students took the ACT than took the SAT. Is the ACT a better test? Who the heck knows? (Full disclosure: I kinda hate the ACT. Too many questions, not enough time.)
But anyway, the threat of the ACT has forced the College Board to revise the SAT again. Now they're switching back to just Math and Verbal scores (though the Essay and some grammar questions are going to stick around). And they're promising big changes again. They're including more questions that stress critical thinking and 21st century skills, whatever that means. They're also promising to eliminate questions that focus on rote memorization (e.g., Sentence Completions) and focus on those that test critical thinking skills. You can read more about the specifics here.
Needless to say, a lot of students and parents are freaking out. How do you prepare for a test that no one has seen? In perhaps an effort to address, this, The College Board swears the new test will NOT be something you can prepare for and that it will assess skills that take years to develop. Short-term prep will no longer be a factor.
Right. Why, then, has the College Board partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT lessons? Is it a placebo?
Here's the deal: the College Board has known about the issues everyone has with the SAT for years, and has a history of only ever taking action to change the test when someone or something threatens its income statement. The "big changes" tend to be much less significant than they're made out to be, and the soul of the test will remain.
So, relax. We have read the 211 page press release (so you don't have to). When the time comes, we'll help you get ready for the "new" test.
And if you're a sophomore or junior right now, just take the current test. Better the devil you know.