The SAT overhaul, the latest from Ukraine, and more from the Slatest PM.

Slatest PM: The Return of the 1600 as a Perfect SAT Score

Slatest PM: The Return of the 1600 as a Perfect SAT Score

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March 5 2014 4:44 PM

Slatest PM: The Return of the 1600 as a Perfect SAT Score

The overhaul is set to go into effect in 2016

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

SAT Overhaul: Associated Press: "Essay optional. No penalties for wrong answers. The SAT college entrance exam is undergoing sweeping revisions. Changes in the annual test that millions of students take will also do away with some vocabulary words such as 'prevaricator' and 'sagacious' in favor of words more commonly used in school and on the job. College Board officials said Wednesday the update—the first since 2005—is needed to make the exam better representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. ... The new exam will be rolled out in 2016, so this year's ninth graders will be the first to take it, in their junior year. The new SAT will continue to test reading, writing and math skills, with an emphasis on analysis. Scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale last used in 2004, with a separate score for the optional essay. ... One of the biggest changes is that the extra penalty for wrong answers, which discouraged guessing, will be eliminated."


Taking Aim at Test Prep: Washington Post: "With these and other changes — such as asking students to analyze documents key to the nation’s founding — College Board officials said they want to make the SAT more accessible, straightforward and grounded in what is taught in high school. Experts say SAT scores have long been strongly correlated to family income, a dynamic the College Board hopes to shake up. Its initiative comes as the 88-year-old test in recent years has slipped behind the rival ACT — a shorter exam with an optional essay — in total student customers. ... At the same time, [College Board president David] Coleman fired a broadside at a test-prep industry that sells books, flashcards and courses to help students raise their scores in the hopes of gaining an edge in competitive college admissions and scholarships. Coleman said the New York-based organization will team with the nonprofit Khan Academy, which delivers free tutorials in math and other subjects via a popular Web site of the same name, to provide free SAT prep for the world."

It's Wednesday, March 5th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Talking About Not Talking About Ukraine: New York Times: "An effort by the United States to broker the first face-to-face diplomatic meeting between Russia and Ukraine over the Crimea confrontation failed on Wednesday, but both Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart said there would be more discussions in the days ahead. Their remarks left open the possibility of progress toward a solution to de-escalate an East-West crisis reminiscent of the Cold War. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, spoke to reporters at France’s Foreign Ministry after conferring with Mr. Kerry in what Mr. Lavrov called 'a long day of discussions on Ukraine.' But American efforts to arrange a direct meeting between Mr. Lavrov and the acting Ukrainian foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia — who was in the same building but not the same room — did not happen."


Obama's Surprise Defeat: Los Angeles Times: "In a surprising defeat for President Obama, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Wednesday blocked his controversial nominee to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division. In a statement, President Obama called the 47-52 vote 'a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.'  Supporters of Debo Adegbile, the son of a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, say his nomination had been fraught with race issues from the start. Opposition focused on his past legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop killer in Philadelphia who became a cause celebre in leftist circles. Adegbile’s involvement in the case brought condemnation from police unions and from the widow of the slain policeman. Even so, until recently his nomination had been expected to pass, albeit narrowly."

(Another) Obamacare Delay: Wall Street Journal: "The Obama administration announced Wednesday that consumers can keep insurance plans that don't comply with the federal health law for another two years, pushing a potential firestorm over cancellations until after midterm elections. Previously, some consumers could keep insurance plans that didn't comply with the Affordable Care Act until roughly the end of this year, as long as their state regulators and insurance company allowed it. Now, consumers will have up to an additional two years to do so, putting their plans in place until roughly 2016."

Pistorius Trial, Day 3: ABC News: "Professional boxer Kenin Lerena was a surprise witness at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial today, where he testified that the athlete accidentally fired a gun in a crowded restaurant last year and then asked a friend to take the blame. The incident happened on Jan. 11, 2013, one month before Pistorius said he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, the paralympic Blade Runner, is charged with murder for firing four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing Steenkamp. Pistorius, 27, could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted. Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder during the night. Lerena, who was a friend of the couple, told the court that the incident happened at the upscale Tasha's restaurant, located in northern Johannesburg. Pistorius and Lerena were joined by two friends, Darren Fresco and Martin Rooney, he said."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.