As of March 2016, the College Board has launched a redesigned SAT. For more information about the redesign—what they've changed, and why it matters—please visit the College Board website. We applaud the College Board for continuing to publicy discuss their plans, and for explaining what the changes will mean.
We continue to receive questions from students, parents, counselors, and the public about the new test in relation to the admission process at UNC Asheville; the answers below should help you a great deal. Still have questions after that? Let us know, and bookmark this page for a later visit! As we receive your questions, we will update this page from time to time.
Applicants for any 2016 term will not use scores from the new test. Simply put, this is because our priority document deadline of February 15 came before the test was even offered. If you are a late applicant for those terms (Fall or Summer 2016), you are welcome to provide scores from the new test, but they will not come to us until May, and have limited usage at the current time.
Applicants for 2017 or beyond should take the new test, but can also submit scores from the pre-2016 version, knowing that UNC Asheville will use scores from either one in a way that ensures equity. With extensive information from the College Board regarding "concordances" (how scores from one version translate into the other one), we will ensure that neither score is advantaged over the other, even if the numeric scores are slightly different.
What is new about the test?
The redesigned SAT will have two 800-point sections instead of three. Math will still be Math, but components of the Critical Reading section and Writing section will be used to create the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score. Also, the essay portion will now become optional, and will not be a factor in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
What about superscoring?
Superscoring, which refers to combining a student's best Critical Reading score from one sitting of the SAT with her/his best Math score from another, is a practice used at UNC Asheville for admissions. It does not include the Writing score, which has not been formally considered at UNC Asheville. We will continue to superscore among pre-March sittings, and will also begin superscoring among new SAT (March 2016 and after) sittings. However, we do not plan to superscore between new and old versions of the test because the scores will not be constructed the same way.
What about the essay?
The redesigned SAT makes the essay portion optional, and we will not require it of our applicants. This is a decision each university will make individually. You are welcome to provide scores that include the essay, and can rest easy that we will not let a low essay score disadvantage you in the UNC Asheville admission process in any way. We will store the result, though, and may use it in research that helps us understand the possible future value of those scores in freshman advising and course placement. Meanwhile, the College Board makes it easy to see which institutions do require the essay portion on their website.
How are scores used in the UNC Asheville admissions process, anyway?
We require all U.S. applicants for freshman admission, and certain transfer applicants, to submit SAT or ACT scores. While these scores are an important part of a complete application, they are not the most important part! SAT or ACT scores allow us to see how well you do in areas fundamental to predicting college readiness, using a third-party tool that is not influenced by something that varies, like your school's grading practices. In that regard, they are helpful. However, we are aware that tests have their limits, and place much higher emphasis on the longer-term work -- your high school work, including the grades you earned and the classes you chose to take. It's four years versus four hours ... you do the math!
Someone told me I should take the ACT instead since the SAT is changing. Is this good advice?
No, that's not a reason to take the ACT. More accurately, it's not a reason to not take the new SAT. We will go to great care to look at concordances, and will also conduct our own research as we receive scores. However, we will continue to stick with our longtime advice that any applicant should consider taking both tests -- there is no evidence that one is easier or harder than the other, and it can go either way for different students. This advice will not change with the new test.
What sources should I use to keep up to date on information about the redesigned test?
For one, bookmark this page and come back often! And if you're a student considering application to the University of North Carolina Asheville, join our mailing list to have information like this sent right to your inbox.
You should connect directly to any other college you are considering for the best information about how they'll use the redesigned test, and continue to check the College Board's own website for their latest updates.
The colleges where you apply, and the College Board itself, will continue to communicate with your college counselors in keeping this information clear. Any other sites or resources beyond that may or may not have accurate information or may be slower to provide updates, so we encourage you to get your information from the right places!