CHICAGO – Sixteen-year-old Jessica Drachenberg is stressed. She’s about to take the SATs — a test that could determine where she goes to college, and maybe even where she gets a job.
"It's bigger than finals and colleges look at them a whole lot closer," said Drachenberg, a high school sophomore.
And a new version is set to debut in March.
Gone are the verbal analogies. New on the scene is more reading comprehension and writing, including a timed essay requiring students to take a position on an issue. It also incorporates additional math questions, adding about half an hour to the total test time.
The change came partly in response to complaints from colleges that the old SAT (search) was too coachable and based more on memorization and drills and had strayed too far from subjects actually taught in school. The College Board (search), which administers the SAT, wanted the test to be more compatible with today's curriculum.
"We periodically look at the SAT and want to make sure that it's a test that's relevant to what goes on in the schools and can help people make better admissions decisions," said Bruce Lindvall, chief educational manager at The College Board.
Students applying to college who have already taken the old test may need to take the newer one, because while many schools will recognize the older version, some universities say they will only accept scores from the new SAT.
So students who had already taken the old version are now diving into practice tests; their families are spending hundreds of dollars on prep courses.
Adding to the stress, today, even employers such as Wall Street firms are looking at candidates' SAT scores.
"More and more companies are looking for ways to sort through thousands of candidates," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas (search). "SAT score is a simple way of cutting down the pile."
Go to the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by Fox News' Jeff Goldblatt.