Students and teachers are hopeful for positive outcome from SAT changes

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KANSAS CITY -- Changes are coming to the SAT college entrance exam that the College Board says will level the playing field. The changes won't take effect until 2016, but many students and educators think it's a change designed to help all students.

"I heard it's stressful, because a lot depends on how you do," said 15-year-old Mazie Brooke, a freshman. Her class will be the first to take the new SAT college exam in the spring of 2016.

"I've heard it's really hard prepping for it, because you're not exactly sure what's going to be on it," Brooke added.

"It causes stress because we hear so much of I have to get a certain score in order to be accepted to college," said Deanna Griffey, a guidance counselor at Shawnee Mission East.

She hopes the new SAT format creates more opportunities for students.

"There's a significant amount of money that can be spent to improve students scores. Those companies do a great job of knowing how to teach those kids to learn for that specific test," Griffey says.

She says students who can afford to pay for tutors have an advantage over those who cannot.

"Students who don't have those means are having to do other ways where it's not specifically geared to that specific student," added Griffey, "It doesn't hone in on maybe where their academic weaknesses are to really raise that score."

The new test format will include three sections: Evidence-based reading and writing, math and an optional essay. This is to stop students from just filling in a bubble on the test sheet.

"It makes me feel more secure about going into it," said Mazie.

The current score scale of 2400 will go back to 1600, with a separate score for the essay. The College Board will also do away with extra point penalties for incorrect answers. Brooke said she's excited the exam will "level the playing field" because she says not everyone has the opportunity to receive help.

"The people that don't are kind of behind," Brooke said.

To prepare students for the sat, for the first time, the College Board will partner with Kahn Academy to provide free test preparation materials starting in the spring of 2015.

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