As of March 2016, the College Board has launched a redesigned SAT. For more information about the redesign—what they've changed, and why it matters—please visit the College Board website. We applaud the College Board for continuing to publicy discuss their plans, and for explaining what the changes will mean.
We continue to receive questions from students, parents, counselors, and the public about the new test in relation to the admission process at Oregon; the answers below should help you a great deal. Still have questions after that? Let us know, and bookmark this page for a later visit! As we receive your questions, we will update this page from time to time. (The most recent update took place on July 19, 2016).
Applicants can submit scores from the new test, or the older version, knowing that Oregon will use scores from either one in a way that ensures equity. We will do our best to ensure that neither score is advantaged over the other, even if the numeric scores are slightly different.
What is new about the test?
The redesigned SAT has two 800-point sections instead of three. Math will still be Math, but components of the Critical Reading section and Writing section will be used to create the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score. Also, the essay portion will now become optional, and will not be a factor in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. (To see how your old scores will look compared to the new ones, check out this tool from the College Board.)
What about superscoring?
Superscoring, which refers to combining a student's best Critical Reading score from one sitting of the SAT with her/his best Math score from another, is a practice at Oregon for both admissions and scholarships. It does not include the Writing score, which has not been formally considered at Oregon. (Note: we do not superscore the ACT, only the SAT). We will continue to superscore among pre-March sittings, and will also begin superscoring among new SAT (March 2016 and after) sittings. However, we will not superscore between new and old versions of the test because the scores are not constructed the same way.
What about the essay?
The redesigned SAT makes the essay portion optional, and we will not require it of our applicants. Throughout the U.S., this is a decision other universities will each make individually. You are welcome to provide scores that include the essay, knowing that we will not let a low essay score disadvantage you in the Oregon admission process in any way. We will store the result, though, and may use it in research that helps us understand the possible future value of those scores in freshman advising and course placement. Meanwhile, the College Board makes it easy to see which institutions do require or recommend the essay portion on their website.
How are scores used in the Oregon admissions process, anyway?
We require all U.S. applicants for freshman admission, and certain transfer applicants, to submit SAT or ACT scores. While these scores are an important part of a complete application, they are not the most important part! SAT or ACT scores allow us to see how well you do in areas fundamental to predicting college readiness, using a third-party tool that is not influenced by something that varies, like your school's grading practices. In that regard, they are helpful. However, we are aware that tests have their limits, and place much higher emphasis on the longer-term work -- your high school work, including the grades you earned and the classes you chose to take. It's four years versus four hours ... you do the math!
Someone told me I should take the ACT instead since the SAT is changing. Is this good advice?
No, that's not a reason to take the ACT. More accurately, it's not a reason to not take the new SAT. We will go to great care to look at concordances, and will also conduct our own research as we receive scores. However, we will continue to stick with our longtime advice that any applicant should consider taking both tests -- there is no evidence that one is easier or harder than the other, and it can go either way for different students.
Well, what if I heard the new test is easier? Does that mean I'm disadvantaged to only submit old scores?
No, that's nothing to worry about, either. On the new test, the concordance shows us that students who would have gotten a 1200 (CR+M) could be expected to get a 1270. So, if you only took the new one and got a 1270, it's projected you can figure you would have gotten about an 1200 on the earlier version. Don't think of this as one test being easier or harder than the other. For now, just think of it kind of like using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. We will keep a close eye on this throughout the year, and ensure the results are what the College Board told us we could expect to see.
What about scholarships?
Relating to the superscoring answer above, scores from the two SAT versions will not be mixed in determining recipients for admissions-related scholarships such as the Summit or Apex awards. Using the concordances, we can tell you a 1260 is needed for the Summit Award, and a 1220 for the Apex Award. Even though this is higher than the 1190 and 1150 for the old SAT, we chose these new scores because of the guidance of the concordance tables.
How do I prepare to do well on these tests?
Oregon wants you to do well on the SAT or ACT, but remember that it's only one of several factors that we consider in our holistic review. So do your best, but don't get overly excited if you do well, or overly disappointed if you don't. Far too many students do, and we also see too many families spend vast sums of money for a test prep class that may or may not improve your scores more than you could have otherwise, on your own or with alternative resources that are lower-cost, or even free. (Besides, we'd rather see you spend that money to make a great visit to our campus and make sure Oregon's right for you!)
For these reasons, it is very exciting that the College Board informs us they have partnered with Khan Academy to offer free test prep services for the SAT. If you try this, let us know your feedback on whether it helped!
What sources should I use to keep up to date on information about the redesigned test?
For one, bookmark this page and come back often! And if you're a student considering application to the University of Oregon, join our mailing list to have information like this sent right to your inbox.
You should connect directly to any other college you are considering for the best information about how they'll use the redesigned test, and continue to check the College Board's own website for their latest updates.
The colleges where you apply, and the College Board itself, will continue to communicate with your college counselors in keeping this information clear. Any other sites or resources beyond that may or may not have accurate information or may be slower to provide updates, so we encourage you to get your information from the right places!