AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsCounting tests taken through January, scores for the upcoming college freshman class are down between four and five points on the combined math and critical reading sections, according to the College Board, which owns the SAT. Full-year numbers are expected to show a “small additional decline.” The change, over two sections totaling 1,600 points, is not unprecedented; scores have changed as much as eight points per year over the last quarter century. But it would be the biggest jump in at least a decade, and sticks out because it coincides with changes made to the test. The College Board added a writing section and made other adjustments to the new test, which debuted in March 2005, but insisted scores would remain comparable. Some colleges, however, are reporting substantial declines. The University of California system saw a 15-point drop, while La Salle University in Philadelphia saw a 12-point drop – even as their applicants looked better than last year’s group by other measures. “I’ve never seen better \ records, and lower scores. Never seen it in At 3 hours, 45 minutes, the newly expanded SAT exam can be a grueling marathon of essays and multiple-choice bubbles, many high schoolers say. Now, with preliminary figures showing a small but noticeable drop in scores this year, some experts wonder if student fatigue is to blame. That could further pressure the College Board to let students take different sections of the test on separate days. “Right now, it’s longer than the GRE, the LSAT and the GMATs, and those are all taken by college students or college graduates,” said Brad MacGowan, a guidance counselor at Newton North High School in Massachusetts, who has asked the College Board to let students split up the exam. 36 years,” said Bob Voss, La Salle dean of admissions. There may be other explanations. Typically, students’ scores rise a combined 30 points on the math and critical reading sections on a second try. While more students are taking the SAT, fewer are taking it multiple times, said College Board spokeswoman Chiara Coletti. The price of the test has risen from $28.50 to $41.50, though fees are sometimes waived. Jeff Olson, executive director of research at test-prep company Kaplan, said some high-achieving students may have decided to stick with the good scores they got on the old SAT. But he said fatigue could have played a role, too. The College Board says it surveyed research on test-taking fatigue and, before debuting the new SAT, conducted its own study, which concluded scores would not be affected by the additional 45 minutes. But MacGowan said that simply didn’t ring true to his experience with 16- and 17-year-olds. He re-examined the research cited by the College Board and wrote up his findings in a paper posted on his Web site. Some of the research the College Board relied on dated back as far as 1921, and often involved older students and shorter tests. The College Board’s own study included just 97 students, divided into three groups. “The fatigue studies were nowhere close to conclusive,” he said. Coletti said College Board was conducting a more extensive study on fatigue, based on actual SAT exams. But she said the College Board believes it is unlikely fatigue is a factor.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!