State chooses SAT, ACT replaced

For the first time in 15 years the Illinois state sponsored college entrance exam will not be the ACT, but instead the SAT. Both exams were created to evaluate college readiness of high school juniors though they are slightly different tests. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has decided to shift to the SAT for the first time in 2016.

“Our curriculum still prepares kids really well regardless of the test,” said Gwendolyn Zimmermann, assistant principal of teaching and learning. “We just don’t tend to have a lot of kids that take the SAT.”

The reason that most Stevenson students don’t take the SAT and stick mainly to the ACT is that most students are going to schools in the midwest that are still predominantly looking at the ACT, according to Zimmermann. The ACT has been the only test offered at Stevenson in the past, another factor that causes students to focus on the ACT.

“Both tests are designed to measure college readiness,” Zimmermann said. “Whichever test is better really depends on where the student chooses to go to college.”

Some students begin preparing for both the ACT and the SAT before beginning the start of their junior year. Deepak Moparthi ’18 began studying during his freshman year for the ACT and is committed to taking both exams.

“If I decide to apply to highly competitive colleges there’ll be applicants from all over the country,” Moparthi said. “Some will have taken the ACT and some the SAT. If [the college] wants to properly compare me to the other applicants, I need to give them all the information I can.”

Though Moparthi plans on taking both exams, he doesn’t think that either is more beneficial than the other. The SAT mathematics exam is more practical because they apply real-world situations, but the two English tests are very similar, Moparthi said.

“The Stevenson curriculum prepares us for both tests,” Moparthi said. “Stevenson has a good math program- English too. The change in tests doesn’t make too much of a difference to me.”

While Moparthi believes that it is beneficial and important to take both exams, administrators and educators believe that there is not much reason to do so. There is a concordance chart that colleges use to compare ACT and SAT scores, so taking both is not necessary, according to college counselor Daniel Miller.

“The reality here is that all colleges accept either test,” Miller said. “Colleges don’t have a preference because they just want a test.”

The way that educators handle the two tests at Stevenson is greatly affected, Miller said. It requires administrators to reevaluate the preparation they give students for standardized tests.

“Next year is a big transitional year— it really is,” Miller said. “Educators have been preparing students to take the ACT, but now it sounds like we will be moving in the SAT direction.”

Per a recent email sent to juniors and their parents, juniors will still be taking the ACT in March. It is highly improbable that juniors will be taking the SAT during the 2016-17 school year.

“We’re not giving the SAT this year unless the state pulls it together,” Zimmermann said. “But we’re pretty confident that it’s not going to happen.”