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SAT Test Prep? Yes, Please!

  Big news about the SAT was revealed today. Even though my oldest kid is just 9, quite a few years away from applying to college, I took note. According to the  College Board, the company that administers the SAT, the exam is being majorly revamped for spring 2016. More specifics and extensive sample items for each section will be released on April 16 of this year, two years before students take the “new” test. Some highlights: • The essay portion will be optional. • The math section will focus on three essential areas: problem solving and data analysis, algebra and passport to advanced math. • Students in need will receive four fee waivers to apply to college, eliminating a cost barrier faced by lower-income students. • Print and digital versions will be offered. (At present, the test is given only on paper.) But perhaps most newsworthy to bottom-line-oriented parents is that the College Board is partnering with Khan Academy, a well-respected education nonprofit, to provide free (yes, free!) test prep materials for the redesigned SAT. (Critics have long insisted that students whose parents were able to pay for pricey test prep had a large and unfair advantage over poorer kids.) And we’re not talking workbooks here—the College Board and Khan promise sophisticated interactive software for extensive practice, plus how-to videos. This coproduced material is scheduled for release in spring 2015. Seems to me these new test prep materials—provided they live up to the hype—could really help level the playing field for kids in lower-income families. What do you think?