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SAT changes looks to level playing field

Rochester, N.Y. -- It's a business that generates a steady stream of revenue.

Prep courses for the SAT and ACT. Many have questioned if they are worth the costs.

"There are expenses this year, there are even more expenses next year as a senior and all the college applications and traveling to look at schools, so to spend $500 to $600 to prepare for a test, to me, seems kind of crazy," said Lynn Keller, mom of a high school junior.

A price College Board President David Coleman pointed out certain groups can afford.

He hopes the changes will help level the playing field.

"We need to dismantle the advantages that people perceive in using costly test preparation to find out the secrets of the SAT," Coleman said. "If there are no more secrets, it's very hard to pay for them."

John Serafine, a counselor at Fairport High School, tutors students for the SAT. He said he's not so sure this change will necessarily stop those advantages.

"I don't think that means that the SAT prep industry is going to disappear. Tutors are going to be out there, prep classes are going to be out there," Serafine said. "So if you have a redesigned SAT, there's going to be that whole industry that's going to shift gears and help students prepare for that test."

But Serafine said he believes overall, an exam testing what students already know can help.

"In theory, they make sense," he said. "What they're trying to do is they're realizing there is a disconnect between what kids are taught and what they're being tested on."

To help lower-income students, Coleman announced Wednesday the College Board, which partners with Kahn Academy, will offer free online practice problems from old tests and instructional videos showing how to solve them.

Serafine pointed out that there are a number of free SAT prep courses in the Rochester community.

The changes are expected to take effect in 2016.

 
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