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Students finally get to put the new SAT to the test

Many students are currently studying for a new version of the SAT, which debuts Saturday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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This Saturday, thousands of high school students around the country will sit for the brand new SAT. The nonprofit College Board has revamped the test to better predict students’ readiness for college, and to compete with its rival the ACT.

The new SAT is meant to reflect what students actually learn in high school. Math questions will be more straightforward, and gone are those obscure vocabulary words like lachrymose and abstemious. Instead, students will be tested on their understanding of “relevant” words, used in context.

“These are words that you will actually see when you go to college or that you will use in your working life,” said Sal Khan, speaking in an online tutorial about the new SAT.

That’s another change: students have access to free test prep through Khan Academy. Based on surveys, the College Board says more than three times as many students are using the free materials than have paid for commercial test-preparation classes.

That hasn’t hurt the paid tutoring business at Compass Education Group, said co-founder Adam Ingersoll.

“Every time the College Board has made significant changes to their test, the one to two years following, the test prep industry hits all-time highs,” he said.

Some of that increase, he said, is from students wary of the new test who are opting to take the ACT instead.

Ingersoll himself won’t be getting a glimpse of the redesigned SAT this Saturday, as he’d planned. This week the College Board informed non-students who’d registered for the test that they’ll have wait until May, citing security concerns.

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