Big changes are in the works for high school students taking the SAT. The College Board announced on Wednesday, Mar. 5, the changes that will be coming to the SAT effective spring 2016.

They hope to put a heavier emphasis on the important academic skills that the previous test did not hold enough focus. The biggest change that will be coming is the switch back to a 1600 grading scale as opposed to the 2400 that has been used for years.

But the grading scale isn’t the only thing being changed. In an effort to help low-income students, a program will be developed to allow them to apply to four colleges free of charge, according to David Coleman, president of the College Board. There were also be more free practice problems available online in order to help students better prepare for the exam.

Taking into consideration the levels of anxiety that many students feel as well prior to the SAT, the sections will also be laid out a bit differently. More vocabulary words that would be getting used in college courses will be tested along with the essay now becoming optional. Math questions will be reevaluated as well to reflect questions about different types of equations, ratios, percentages and proportions. Calculators will be permitted on one part of the math section.

In addition to all these developments, the changes to the reading and writing section will include a wider range of backgrounds, including science and history. There will also be a reading passage from the nation’s founding documents or discussions that have come about because of these documents. In certain cases, students will answer questions that they will have to directly relate back to the passage, using quotations and pieces of the text to support their opinions.

While all these changes to the SAT come, some people are still skeptical as to the value of the SAT to reflect student’s talents and knowledge. Many people still believe that the grades a student earns in high school classes are a better indicator of how successful a student will be in college. The changes also come in the wake of the ACT becoming more popular.

What do you think of the new changes to the SAT?