In view of the redesigned SAT, I have altered the advice I typically give students about their junior-year testing calendar
This test will be administered for the first time in March, 2016. March and May tend to be the two most popular times for juniors to take their first SAT. While College Board has released only four full-length tests to use in preparation for the new test, Khan Academy has myriad practice questions on its website. To create a Khan Academy account, click here). In addition, Score At The Top has been hard at work creating new test prep strategies and materials to help you prepare for the new test.
The first two administrations of the redesigned SAT will come with delayed score reporting — perhaps up to 6-8 weeks, rather than 19 days — making it difficult to expeditiously plan for future testing and test-prep. Further, we won’t know right away what the new scores mean as the 200-800 scales will not necessarily be the same as the existing 200-800 scales. And, finally, and perhaps most important, based on the test specifications, practice tests, and sample questions, the redesigned SAT looks to be harder than both the current SAT and ACT. While this might not be the case for more gifted test-takers, the majority of students will likely find this to be true.
This test format will be around through January, 2016. Since all colleges other than Virginia Tech will accept the current SAT when you apply, taking the existing test — for which we have myriad actual tests and practice questions for your test-prep — is an advantageous way to go if you can finish your testing by this January. The current SAT will also be accepted for National Merit Scholar contenders.
Colleges treat the SAT and ACT exactly the same, so why take a chance on a new test (the SAT) with a paucity of top-quality test prep materials when you can take the ACT, which has undergone minimal change, and for which there’s a tome of actual tests with which to prepare! Yes, the ACT just revised its essay component, but we already know all about it and have developed some great test-prep strategies to help you succeed on this essay.
So what does all this mean for you?
Seriously consider taking the ACT or the current SAT, rather than the redesigned SAT! And, of course, you should be able to use your experience with last week’s PSAT to gauge how you might fare on the redesigned SAT, since the PSAT you took was the new PSAT, and the PSAT has always done a good job of predicting success on the SAT.
Testing calendar recommendations
Since the SAT and ACT each offer three testing dates from which you can get back a copy of the test you took, your answers, and the correct answer, I’ve focused a testing calendar on those particular dates. In order to take advantage of this, you must request and pay for these services during your online registration process. Here’s what the services are called:
- For ACT: Test Information Release
- For SAT: Question & Answer Service
Take the ACT:
- Dec 12
- If you decide to take the test again to improve your scores, consider the April 9 and/or June 11. The test is also offered on Feb 6, but you can’t get the Test Information Release on that date.
- You can take the ACT again in Sept or Oct of your senior year (early enough to be considered for Early Decision) or Dec if you need an even higher score.
Take the OLD SAT
Only if think you’ll do better on the OLD SAT than on the REDESIGNED SAT, or if you want to compare the OLD SAT with your ACT experience. However, if you know ACT is your test, you can skip the SAT entirely. Here are the remaining test dates for the OLD SAT:
- Nov 7 (Late registration deadline: Oct 23)
- Dec 5
- Jan 23 (Question & Answer Service available)
Take the REDESIGNED SAT
Take this test (with the optional Writing section) either to compare it to the ACT and then pick the better test on which to focus, or if you know the SAT is a better test for you but didn’t take the OLD SAT. However, if you know ACT is your test, you can skip the SAT entirely. Possible test dates include:
- March 5 or May 7 (Question & Answer Service available only for May)
- Again on June 4 if you need a higher score (but the May scores are unlikely to be back by June 4)
- You can take the SAT again in Oct of your senior year (early enough to be considered for Early Decision) or even in Nov (ok for Early Decision at some colleges) or Dec if you need an even higher score.
Take SAT Subject Tests
Only if you think you’ll need them… and then either 2 (in most cases) or 3… For most juniors, the best subject choices include these, which are best taken in May or June (right before or after the AP exams):
- U.S. History
- Math Level 1 or Level 2 (or take earlier if you’ve finished pre-calc!)
We hope you’ll consider Score At The Top for all your test-prep needs — private tutoring (in our centers, in your home, or via Skype) or small group workshops. All of our centers offer complimentary SAT and ACT simulations on a regular basis as well – even if you’re not doing test prep with us. Call us with your questions – or to register for private tutoring sessions, group workshops, or simulations.