Equity Comes to SAT Prep
SAT testing is changing, and college admissions along with it. Urged by college admission officers to make a change, the College Board released an expanded essay portion of the standard college entry test for 2016. The increase in writing is intended to better determine the communication skills of potential college students, who often show up without basic writing competency (according to studies).
The SAT is an end point, though, and not intended to be a benchmark on learning. It’s supposed to tell potential colleges what a student already knows, and in what ways that student is already competent. As a result, students must already be skilled writers when they take the test, making essay-writing practice a now-essential part of SAT prep.
In a time where information is ubiquitous, the ability to write critically is a necessary skill – but how can students learn it? Even the best writing instructors face typical classroom issues that can stand in the way of making their students shine – from crowded classrooms, to disinterest from students, to needed remediation but no time to make it happen. College-bound kids MUST have writing expertise, and the change in SAT testing now ensures it.
So how can teachers reach all of their students with effective writing tools that help them improve and ultimately get into college?
SAT Prep for ALL Students
Turnitin – the company most teachers know for its plagiarism detection software – recently released its Revision Assistant software that guides students through the writing process. The platform provides feedback for students on the spot, giving them the chance to revise their documents unlimited times until the writing is clear, concise and error-free. Revision Assistant is designed for students in grades 6 to 12, but is also for use by those taking foundational college writing courses.
By the end of this year, students from all walks of life can access free writing practice in a publicly available version of Turnitin’s Revision Assistant, as part of a Khan Academy package that uses real SAT writing prompts. Students will be able to access step-by-step writing guidance that will ultimately prepare them for the SAT’s new essay portion.
Revision Assistant as SAT Tool
I think that the power of technology like Revision Assistant is a turning point for disadvantaged students who often can’t afford one-on-one tutoring. Revision Assistant gives real-time feedback on writing, offering tips on how to improve on it both contextually and technically. Now that there is a free version available, equitable access to this fantastic tool is available.
That immediate feedback is not lost on students. In pilot studies, students revised an average of six to ten times using Revision Assistant to improve their writing. When students can see exactly what needs improvement, and are guided in the steps to get there, their writing improves. I’ve written before about how student-friendly the aesthetics and functions are on Revision Assistant and that’s even more important to note now that even more students will have access to it.
Using technology to improve writing is a smart way to prep students for the SAT, and college beyond it, and Revision Assistant is providing that much-needed service in an equitable way.