Should You Be Freaking Out About the "New SAT"?

There has been a lot of hype about this “new SAT” expected to be released next year, and many students are wondering....What does this mean?  Should I be freaking out?

If you are a current Junior (Class of 2016), then no.  This test will not affect you.  Ideally, you should finish all your standardized testing by September or October before you start on your applications.  So this change shouldn’t affect you at all. 

If you are a current Freshman (Class of 2018...or beyond), you don’t really need to worry.  You will have to take the new version of the SAT when you get there (or the ACT), but by then test prep professionals will have mastered the new version and the College Board should have ironed out any glitches that occur during the transition.

If you are current Sophomore (Class of 2017), you may be affected by the redesigned test. Yes, it’s true that the College Board will be putting out a redesigned SAT that will affect the Class of 2017.  The changes will take place during your “testing season”, but there are ways to alleviate some of your anxiety.  Here is what we know so far:

    the PSAT in October 2015 will be in the new format

    the new SAT will not take effect until Spring 2016 (latest rumors say March)

    the “Redesigned SAT” is supposed to test skills more relevant to those needed in college

    the scoring will return to two 800-point sections, a total of 1600 points

    the essay will be optional and scored separately

    all the nitty-gritty details can be found at HERE.

So here’s the low-down…

This is not the first time the SAT has undergone some sort of redesign.  In fact, the most recent “update” was only ten years ago in 2005.  The SAT is not known for undergoing flawless transitions during these update periods.  Not to mention the fact that there are limited test prep materials available until this new monster gets underway.  The first takers of the test will essentially be guinea pigs, on which the College Board will still be gathering research before writing future versions of the test.  Do you want to be a guinea pig?  Probably not, so here is what I suggest: Start preparing now to take the current version of the SAT before it goes out of practice.

The SAT is offered in October, November, December, January, March, May, and June.  That gives you FOUR opportunities to take it in the fall/winter before the “new SAT” is even released.  And, of course, there are two tests left this school year—in May and June—if you want to get a head start. 

As for the PSAT, you will have to pioneer the new version on that one.  But unless you are in the top 1% of all students in the country and hoping to qualify for National Merit Scholarships, then this won’t matter much. 

I’m not saying that the current SAT is better than the new one will be, but what I am saying is that it’s less mysterious.  There is a plethora of prep materials on the current test and test prep experts are precisely that—experts.  We are working tirelessly to stay on top of the new SAT when they release practice questions so we can be ready to help you conquer that version as well, but it will take time for us to really become masters of that test.  It is with those factors in mind that I recommend starting now and taking the current SAT before it becomes outdated. 

A couple things to consider….

It’s not a bad idea to also take the new SAT when it comes out.  Who knows, it may be easier or you may like the new format better, so it certainly can’t hurt to try it out and see how it compares with your other SAT scores. 

You can always take the ACT.  If you are unsure about this whole transition and you’re not quite ready to start taking tests yet, then you may just want to focus on the ACT.  (By the way, the only reason I can think of that you wouldn’t be “ready” for the SAT is if you haven’t taken all the math content yet, meaning you have not had any Algebra 2.)  All colleges are required to take EITHER the SAT or the ACT, and they are not supposed to show bias towards one test or the other.  That means that you can bypass the confusion around the SAT altogether, and just focus on rocking the ACT.

I am an expert on both tests, and have seen remarkable score improvements with my students taking either (or both!) tests.  If you want to find out more about what path might be right for you, you can schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session with me to discuss your options. 

So the answer is….NO, you should not be freaking out.  You’ve got this.  And I’m here to help.