ESL Students at a Disadvantage for the New SAT

By Rose Chen

The SAT is one of the most important test for students. 95 percent of colleges look at SAT or ACT scores during the admissions process. With the top universities requiring nearly perfect scores before applicants are even considered, Brooklyn Tech Juniors are stressing in mayhem to balance their AP classes with preparation for the test.

This coming March, college board will be releasing the new SAT, reformatted to more closely match the current curriculum. While some may celebrate the redesigned test, many of you will find yourselves in the most bleak nightmare ever. And here’s why: The test is a reading marathon; and if you’re not an avid reader, good luck!

The reading section is similar to the old test except there won’t be any sentence completions that require students to jam their brains with vocabulary. However, there will be questions on graphs related to the passages as well as ones asking for textual evidence. Ironically, although, the excessive emphasis on reading was the main obstacle to the new Sat, many students thought the reading section improved the most in the transformation. Amy Wei’17 who is set to take the test in March, said, “The new reading section is a lot easier; the questions that ask for evidence help me answer the question before it. I’ll know I chose the wrong answer if the answer choices in the next question don’t include lines that support it. They also cut the answer choices from five choices to four, so that will also be a lot of help.”

The writing section is completely reformatted, shifting from the traditional single grammar questions to several long passages with underlined parts that need revision. Focusing more on the content and style of writing, the section tests significantly less grammatical technicalities. This may be much more easier for some, but again, it involves much more reading than the old test. The analysis prompt will be like an oasis in a desert for academic writers, especially those of you taking AP English and Composition.

For the most part, the essay continues to be the glaring rays of the scorching sun. If your energy wanes and you struggle to understand the article, it will be almost impossible to write the rhetorical analysis essay. This new emphasis on reading will particularly impact ESL students. Although there are less vocabulary for them to memorize, the extensive reading in all three sections including the math, are bound to affect their scores negatively. Even the “math” questions have become so tediously wordy that they’ll baffle even the most ingenious mathematicians. Perhaps the English professors will have a better chance at solving them.

All these new changes are subjective and may be easier or more difficult depending on individual strengths. Therefore, regardless of which test you decide to take, it is always a good idea to invest in prep classes on school days or weekends. Some popular tutoring centers include Mega, in Queens, which many Techies already go to, Ivy Prep, for those of you in Brooklyn, Sylvan Learning in the Bronx, Huntington Learning Center in Staten Island , and Florentine and Higher Learning down in Chinatown, Manhattan. Princeton Review is also hosting classes at our school on Tuesdays and Thursday to prep for the December SAT at a discounted rate for Tech students. While, some of you might decide that you don’t learn anything from the classes, you have to concede that the mere fact that prep makes you practice is priceless. But of course, with a load of self discipline and motivation, you can save a lot of money by preparing alone with practice books. Many organizations such as, Kaplan and Princeton Review are offering free practice tests at local libraries, so keep yourselves updated on those opportunities!

The test may seem daunting, but it is certainly not impossible. After having a feel for the new test through the October PSAT, Chole Wong ’17 expressed an optimistic view, “It was a breeze. If you do your prep, you should be fine.” The SATS, and even the ACTS are truly one of those things that live up to the adage: “practice makes perfect.” Anyone can master them with a little bit of perspiration.

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