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  What about the ACT Writing Test?

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     First, Iíd like to ask any students nervous about the new test take a deep breath, and think about what the coming changes really mean. For the classes of 2004 and 2005 they mean nothing. Thatís because the first test date that will offer the new test format is in March of 2005. So the coming changes will affect only the class of 2006 and following years.

     Next, letís take a moment to think about the goal behind the coming changes. From everything Iíve read, it seems the only significant changes in goals are as follows:

   1) To evaluate each studentís writing skills
   2) To include some topics from Algebra II
   3) (The cynic in me must also note that the price increase will provide a huge boost to the income of The College Board.)

     Thatís really it. I certainly hope that our college bound students are already taking Algebra II. If so, demonstrating achievement in that area shouldnít be a problem. The additional cost will most likely be in the $10-12 per test range, so that should not be a hardship for most families. (If it is, donít forget to investigate fee waivers.) In addition, some students who previously had to take the SAT II writing test may save a little bit if that is no longer required of them.

     That leaves the "dreaded essay" as the major concern. I would encourage students to approach this with a positive attitude for two reasons. First, itís probably similar to assignments theyíve done dozens of times in high school. Second, it may very well help colleges to better evaluate each studentís ability and therefore offer admission to those who will fit best into their programs.

     In this country we are fortunate to have thousands of good colleges to choose from. Students naturally want to make the best possible choice when it comes to their college selection. Itís worth remembering though, that college admissions officers also put a great deal of time and effort into the application screening process. If this tool helps some colleges to make better selections, that should improve the college experience for many students.

     For more info than you probably want on the new SAT, check out the following link: http://www.collegeboard.com/newsat/index.html

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