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MHSA: Maine High School Assessment
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SAT FACT SHEET - PDF
SAT: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
THE NAME: The original SAT, introduced as one of the first standardized, multiple-choice tests back in 1926, was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The term “aptitude” was chosen to indicate that the purpose of this measure was to identify which students were deemed capable - had the aptitude - for college. Over the years, however, the word “aptitude” took on connotations of an inherent, unchangeable and immutable set of student abilities. To send the message that students’ SAT scores were indicators of their academic abilities at one moment in time and that these abilities could be impacted by quality learning experiences, the word “aptitude” was changed to “assessment” in 1994. Several years later the name was changed to just the initials, “SAT.”
WHAT IT MEASURES:
The SAT is described as a “reasoning” test, as distinguished from an “achievement” test. For example, the math section is not a test of recall. Math formulas are provided in every math section in the test book to avoid testing recall. Instead, the test is looking to see whether students can apply the math they’ve learned. Can they take that math and use it to solve problems? Similarly, the reading section is not so much a test of reading comprehension as it is a test of students’ critical reading skills. Most of the questions require that students go beyond a simple understanding of the text and make some inferences based on what they have read. They need to recognize that there is an author “behind” the reading passage and be able to assess the author’s point of view. The multiple-choice writing section also assesses critical thinking. Students are not asked simply to identify sentence parts; they must understand the grammatical relationships between and among parts of the sentence in order to communicate ideas clearly and precisely. In addition, the writing section contains what may be the clearest example of reasoning, an essay that requires critical thinking to develop an argument on a specific topic and the ability to express that thinking in the students’ own words.
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