Can you answer this sample question from the newly redesigned SAT?

Can you answer this math question from a practice test for the SAT?

SAT study blogs recommend spending only about 75 seconds on each math problem, so you should set a timer.

Ready?


Here it is:

A typical image taken of the surface of Mars by a camera is 11.2 gigabits in size. A tracking station on Earth can receive data from the spacecraft at a data rate of 3 megabits per second for a maximum of 11 hours each day. If 1 gigabit equals 1,024 megabits, what is the maximum number of typical images that the tracking station could receive from the camera each day?

A) 3
B) 10
C) 56
D) 144




*You can find the answer at the bottom of this story.

Keep in mind that the numeric details here are presented in an intentionally confusing order, from which multiple equations must be extrapolated before any math can actually be done.

Give up? Timer run out? Or hey, maybe you answered it without even blinking (no judgements here ... nerd).

That question comes from the newly redesigned SAT, which will roll out in March 2016.

Millions of juniors and seniors in high school take the SAT every year with the palm-sweating hope they'll do well enough on it to at least get into their safety school. The test is, traditionally, the final word on your intelligence and scholastic acumen before you go off to college.


The second worst aisle in the book store. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Of course, there's no shortage of strongly worded arguments to the contrary, and the SAT, which was designed in the 1920s, has long been criticized for being outdated and unfair to groups such as minorities and lower-income students.

"The only persistent statistical result from the SAT is the correlation between high income and high test scores," Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, told Time magazine in 2014.

But in an apparent attempt to address the criticism that students from high-income families perform better on the SAT, the College Board might have actually made the SAT even worse.

The College Board, which makes the SAT, has updated the test to be "more focused on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education" and to more accurately reflect what students are actually learning in high school as well as what they need to succeed in college.

"College success skills?" Former College Board president Gaston Caperton in 2002. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The SAT was also redesigned to more effectively compete with its competitor, the ACT, which has been gaining more market share since at least 2008.

With the SAT redesign comes a new set of problems.

And I'm not just talking about math problems.

Simply put, the new SAT test is wordier. There are longer and harder reading passages as well as more words in the math problems.

Experts are saying that those changes put immigrants and lower-income students at an even greater disadvantage since they might not have as much access to English-language reading as other students.


Carol McMullen-Pettit, a premier tutor at The Princeton Review, with a student in 2014. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The College Board is countering those criticisms, of course, saying that the new SAT test contains the same amount of words in its reading sections and that the math sections contain the same percentage of word problems as before (about 30%).

Outside analysts are alleging that the way words are used on the updated SAT is what makes all the difference.

Short sentence-completion questions, for example, have been swapped out for long reading passages from prose-heavy texts like "Ethan Frome" and "Moby-Dick" or political thought pieces like John Locke's "Consent of the Governed."

Math problems have also been wrapped in more narrative, forcing students to do a higher level of reading comprehension just to figure what equation the question is really asking about.

Another math problem that took me and two other college graduates 20 minutes to solve.

And just to be clear, the SAT is supposed to be challenging. On top of that, math word problems are meant to teach extrapolation and reading comprehension as much as algebra.

However, if we want a test that's even a little bit "standard," it's going to have to take into account that some students are at a disadvantage when it comes to skills like reading comprehension.

"It’s going to change who does well," said Lee Weiss, vice president of precollege programs at Kaplan Test Prep, to The New York Times. "Before, if you were a student from a family where English was not the first language, you could really excel on the math side. It may be harder in the administration of this new test to decipher that, because there is so much text on both sides of the exam."

Whether the new SAT addresses systemic disadvantages or makes them worse remains to be seen.

"We’re going to need to see how they did, which test is going to be better, how can we weigh it," Eric J. Furda, the dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Times.

But it's hard not to feel for the kids who are currently studying and signing up to take the SAT. For the last several years, many of them have been told that it's one of the most important ingredients in their recipe for success, but in fact, the SAT is likely on its way out.

Texas A&M University, which doesn't require SAT scores for admission. Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images.

Hundreds of colleges are now going "test optional" because the SAT is so outdated.

Advocates all the way up to the president have called on schools to reduce the time spent on standardized testing, saying that it puts students under a tremendous amount of stress while failing to make them smarter.

In fact, studies have shown that SAT and ACT are not a good measure of a student's intelligence or academic potential at all. It's pretty easy to see why a test designed shortly after World War I is at best outdated and at worst dramatically unfair.

Oh, and by the way: The answer to the Mars question from the top is B) 10.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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