Khan Academy to Offer Free SAT Prep in Partnership with the College Board

The tools were co-designed with the authors of the new SAT

The Khan Academy will offer SAT test prep materials for free, the online learning platform said Wednesday, through a partnership with the College Board that aims to help level the playing field in a college admissions process that has increasingly favored wealthier applicants.

The new offerings come as some fundamental changes are on the way for the SAT, the College Board announced Wednesday. Khan Academy will provide a range of free learning tools designed specifically for the new SAT, which will do away with the obligatory essay and more esoteric vocabulary words.

Khan already offers include a library of free online content in areas like math, science and the humanities. But the free SAT prep software is a new offering, designed with the College Board and the authors of the SAT. "For the first time ever, all students who want to go to college can prepare for the SAT at their own pace, at absolutely no cost," Khan founder Sal Khan said in the nonprofit's announcement.

The goal, he said, is to help ensure that students have a deep grasp of the underlying fundamentals so they can succeed on the SAT and also in college. SAT test prep has become an industry, though it's one usually accessed by the middle and upper classes due to its price.

"The SAT should reward merit and hard work, and success on the exam should be available to all," College Board CEO and President David Coleman said in a statement.

The new tools will include exercises, software diagnostics and videos, and they will be available to students in the spring of next year, a year ahead of the new SAT coming in 2016. Thousands of practice problems and instructional videos will be made available, the Khan Academy said. Khan's services include a "personalized learning dashboard," which is designed to provide instruction to students at their own pace.

Until then, students taking the SAT in 2014-2015 can start practicing now with hundreds of questions from unreleased SATs and over 200 videos with step-by-step solutions, the Khan Academy said.

The redesigned SAT will revert back to being scored on a 400- to 1600-point scale, and will include eight key changes, the College Board said. One of the major changes does away with the penalty for wrong answers, to encourage students to give the best answer they have for every problem, the College Board said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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