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York County students take new SATs

Jessica Schladebeck
505-5438/@JessDispatch
  • The news SATs will feature two sections plus the optional essay
  • The exam will last three hours as opposed to three hours and 45 minutes
  • According to College Board, the content will more closely align with classroom curriculum

This weekend the first wave of students took the redesigned SAT — a new format that includes an optional essay portion and an increased focus on real-world skills.

Carnegie Pollack SAT math teacher Marshall Spooner works with student Greg Nevins, of Fairfield, during the company's SAT prep class at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Conn. on Feb. 21, 2016. Connecticut high school juniors were among the first in the nation to take the brand new SAT. While most others taking the new SAT for the first time will do so on March 5, Connecticut and New Hampshire public high school students started things off three days earlier. (Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Key differences in the pre-college exam, which was rolled out on Saturday, include a change in the breakdown of the subject-specific sections and what the College Board calls a closer alignment to what students are learning in the classroom, as well as a focus on the key skills that identify college readiness.

The new tests were given at eight high schools around York County on Saturday: Central York, Dallastown Area, Dover Area, Hanover Senior, Northeastern Senior, Red Land, Red Lion Area and Susquehannock.

Early takers say new SAT 'wasn't so bad' and not so tricky

The exam will be offered next on May 7 at Delone Catholic, Spring Grove Area and York Suburban high schools, and on June 4 at South Western, William Penn and York Suburban high schools.

Redesign: High school students taking the SATs prior to March had three hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. The new SAT will take three hours to complete, unless students opt to complete the essay section which was previously mandatory. Students completing the writing portion of the exam will have three hours and 50 minutes to take the test.

According to the College Board, some colleges and universities will require their applicants to complete the essay portion of the exam in order to be considered for enrollment, and students are encouraged to be aware of the requirements for the schools they have interest in.

Neither York College nor Penn State York require potential students to do the essay, according to their websites.

The SATs unveiled this weekend also have two sections (three with the optional essay): the evidence-based reading and writing section and a math section. The old SAT was made up of four sections: critical reading, writing, mathematics and the essay.

The new sections will be graded on the same scale — from 200-800 — but because there are fewer sections, the exam over all will be graded on a scale of 400-1600 as opposed to the old exam, which had a grading scale of 600-2400.

According to a press release from the College Board, there will be changes in the test's content as well, including a shift from "obscure vocabulary words to the use of relevant words in context" and "a focus on the areas of math that matter most."

Prep: Red Lion guidance counselor Kathy Moser said the high school hosted a seminar last month to discuss the upcoming changes.

The high school has also reached out to students and parents by email with a range of resources, Moser said, the first of which is satpractice.org

"This webpage will assist students in preparing for the test content," she said in an email. "If your son or daughter took the PSAT this past fall, it is our hope that they have accessed their scores online through College Board and have linked their scores with Khan Academy for a personalized SAT test prep session. Additionally, we encourage students to view this webpage as well for test prep strategies and practice."

The College Board recently partnered with the Khan Academy to develop free, personalized practice tools for the redesigned SAT.

Moser also recommended students check out sat.org/test which outlines what students can expect come test day.

Past test scores: According to the most recent data from the Department of Education, York County's average SAT score was 1492 and the state's was 1422.

York Suburban School District students had the highest average score of 1601, and York City School District had the lowest with an average score of 1230.

Below is a complete list of York County high schools' average SAT scores from 2015:

  • Central York High School: 1505
  • Dallastown Area Senior High School: 1548
  • Dover Area High School:1432
  • Eastern York High School:1462
  • Hanover Senior High School:1414
  • Northern High School:1547
  • Northeastern Senior High School:1476 
  • Red Lion Area Senior High School: 1481 
  • Kennard-Dale High School:1536
  • South Western Senior High School:1482
  • Susquehannock High School:1589
  • Spring Grove Area High School:1520
  • Cedar Cliff High School:1526
  • Red Land Senior High School: 1537
  • West York Area High School:1488
  • William Penn Senior High School:1230
  • York Suburban Senior High School:1601

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.