The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU considering SAT I possibility

Applicants could be required to submit writing test scores

High school seniors who plan to apply to SMU will likely be required to take the redesigned SAT I writing test. The University of Texas at Austin made the decision in mid-January to require the writing portions on the SAT I or the ACT.

While the final decision hasn’t been made yet, SMU school officials say it will probably be implemented when the test becomes available in 2005.

Chadd J. Bridwell, associate director for Undergraduate Admissions at SMU said that the SAT I writing test will show students’ ability to write on a set topic in a given amount of time. “The impromptu writing on the SAT test would let SMU know applicants are writing without receiving outside help,” Bridwell said.

SMU will still consider SAT scores, high school transcripts, teacher recommendations and an essay.

“The essay provides a window into an applicant’s world,” Bridwell said of the current required essay. “It’s purpose is two-fold – we evaluate writing skills and we can get to know the applicant,” he said.

The expanded version, set to be implemented in 2005, will include the writing section as well as multiple-choice questions. The essay will be graded on the quality of organization, presentation and support of ideas.

The essay will be evaluated independently by two English teachers – college or high school teachers. If the two teachers’ scores differ by more than two points on a scale of one to six, a third teacher will look at the essay. The essay will be scanned and distributed to graders via the Web.

The University of Texas made the decision to implement this test to prepare students for the change in writing standards from high school to college. Bruce Walker, associate vice president and director of admissions at UT said, “This should make admission more competitive for students who don’t write well.”

“We believe this is a good time to send an encouraging message to schools and students on the importance of writing. We are hoping schools will now place a greater emphasis on writing skills,” said Walker.

He expects other schools to adopt the requirement as well. “We wanted to establish a leadership role in this issue, and we expect other schools to follow our lead,” Walker said.

Many of SMU’s benchmark schools are also considering requiring the writing test, including Duke University, which also hasn’t made a final decision.

Leonard Satterwhite, Duke’s senior associate director of admissions said, “The test won’t affect students until 2005, so we are still looking at all the options.”

The SAT I will also undergo other changes. The verbal section will be renamed Critical Reading. The analogies portion will be dropped in favor of questions on short reading passages to complement the longer text passages.

The math section will also be revamped to include three years of high school math – Algebra II concepts will be tested in addition to Algebra I and Geometry. The College Board, which provides the SAT, estimates that the fee for the test will increase by $10 to $12.

The ACT admissions exam will also incorporate an optional writing test, beginning in the 2004-2005 school year.

Justin Johnson, a sophomore economics major said, “This will probably make admission more difficult because writing skills will be evaluated. I am glad I got to take the old test.”

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