The just-unveiled changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, have quickly become a topic of discussion at high schools all over South Florida. Marlene Cabrera teaches English at Terra Environmental Institute, an all-magnet public high school in Kendall.
"Just today I had students in my gifted class say what's gonna be next? When can I take that test?" Cabrera said.
Last week, the College Board announced major changes are coming to the test that strikes fear into the hearts of college-bound high school students. Most colleges require students take either the SAT or its rival, the ACT, as a requirement for admission.
The changes include going back to the 1600-point scale, making the essay optional, no more penalties for guessing wrong on the multiple choice section, replacing obscure vocabulary with more practical words, limiting calculator use, and focusing more on analyzing non-fiction works.
The changes to the test don't actually take effect until 2016, but in response, teachers are already changing how they teach their classes.
"I'm excited because I think classrooms are going to be more, analyzing rhetoric rather than just trying to find one answer that's right there in the text," said Cabrera.
Independent college counselor Mandee Adler just wrote a book called, "From Public School to the Ivy League." She runs a company called International College Counselors, based in Hollywood.
"I think it's about time that the SAT kept up with the times," Adler said. "Last year we worked with anywhere from 400 to 500 kids around the world and very few of them were actually choosing the SAT over the ACT, to me the SAT was feeling antiquated."
Adler says the College Board's decision to partner with Khan Academy to provide free online SAT prep courses is a huge step toward leveling the playing field with students who can afford expensive tutors.
"That ability to pay for that should not be a factor anymore," says Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, in a video on his company's website.
"This exam should be about merit," says College Board President David Coleman, in that same video. "So it's much less about tricks, about mysterious things, than an open exam that celebrates good work."
The SAT will become more like an Advanced Placement class exam. So what’s Adler's advice to prepare?
"You want to tell a child, take the most rigorous academic curriculum you can and yes, by doing that, you will prepare for the SAT,” she says.