Changes Made to the New York State English Regents

By Michelle Lam and Judy Li

Whether it’s at the end of sophomore year or in the middle of junior year, the English Regents have always consisted of three parts: listening, reading comprehension, and writing. It seems simple enough, but with new changes to the exam, students may be in for a surprise.

Beginning in 2016, the current English Regents will be replaced with a new version aligned with the “common core curriculum.”

The exam will be “more like an AP English exam,” said Ambrose, an AP English Language teacher. “Like rhetoric. Traditionally it was all about literature. The shift will have more exposure to nonfiction, trying to balance between fiction and nonfiction,” Ambrose continued.

This purpose of this change is to further develop a student’s ability to critically analyze nonfiction passages, a great asset for the real world.

For instance, the multiple-choice section that once asked for a student’s recollection of details in a story will now focus more on the writer’s purpose. Students will be asked to infer and question the motives of the writer, instead of accepting the work of literature as it is.

The skills that are necessary for the new English Regents require students to reshape their thinking, which is a “kind of thinking [that] is a skill for the new world,” says Ambrose.

However, not every student thinks this change is an improvement.

“With the new English Regents,” says Karen Ly ’17, “I’d expect the grades to be lower than last year.”

Some students feel that the genre of the text will be problematic.

Jonathan Lee ’16 says, “I already have trouble understanding nonfiction. I find it boring. I’d rather have some fantasy story which I personally find easier to understand.”

“I’m not interested in nonfiction because it has too many facts. I’d rather read something more interesting,” says Amy Liang ’16.

Contrary to the beliefs of many students, “practice[s] won’t have to shift drastically,” says Marc Williams, the Assistant Principal of the English Department.

In fact, one way to become comfortable with nonfiction is to just start reading more of it.

Exposure to nonfiction enhances students’ vocabularies and understanding of more advanced sentence structures.

Additionally, “The reading of informational texts is an integral part of every profession,” says Williams.

If anything, students can look at the new additions as an “exciting new challenge,” Ambrose says.

Ultimately, the Regents are changing for a reason, and it’s to prepare students better for tasks they will be faced with later in life. It’s up to students to stay open minded in the process.

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