College Board, the nonprofit membership organization in charge of the SAT, announced that it plans to make some major improvements to the assessment exam.

The organization’s new president, David Coleman, sent an email (posted on LinkedIn) to College Board members telling them that the future test will do a better job preparing students for actual college work. After assuring members that the SAT is the best college assessment test available, Coleman argued that improvements need to be made to ensure it remains that way.

Coleman did not give out many details in the email about what the new test will look like, but called the revision an “ambitious endeavor” that will require the “full engagement” of members.

Before his current position, Coleman helped to create the Common Core State Standards, a set of K–12 curriculum standards that was adopted by most states. Coleman’s previous experience is more focused on K–12 education than on university education, which gives him insights into the current problems in student preparation for college.

One of the specific problems cited by Coleman in a keynote speech at the Brookings Institution, is the written portion of the test. While he supports the recent addition of the essay in the exam, he complained that it does not do a good enough job in requiring factual writing. “There’s no source information given to you,” he said. “So in other words, you write like what your opinion is on a subject, but there’s no fact on the table.”

Although this kind of writing does indicate a person’s ability to argue their opinions, it does not necessarily prepare them for the argumentation they will be doing in college courses. Coleman wants to change the test in order to better prepare students for college courses.

According to the College Board’s website, its purpose is to “expand access to higher education and to democratize the application process for students.” The SAT has been assessing future college students since 1926 and last went through major revisions in 2005, when the College Board added a written essay. In 2012, 1.66 million people took the SAT.


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