Eight months away from the new PSAT test and a year from the SAT rollout, we’re learning more about each test. To keep you abreast of the latest information, we’re sharing our intelligence below.
First, the College Board will release a total of eight practice tests, some of which will be developed in conjunction with Khan Academy. Full availability of all practice tests remains unclear, but sometime this month (March 2015) we should expect to see the one and only PSAT sample test. Expect four SAT sample tests in the spring, perhaps ten months before the first administration of the redesigned SAT. We can expect the release of another four sample tests, through Khan Academy, over the months after the College Board releases the first four. Web-based, the Khan Academy sample tests will be online and downloadable. Students will be able to use a smart phone app to snap a picture of their answer sheet that will generate instant scoring by Khan Academy. This summer, College Board will release its new Official SAT Study Guide with some or all of those first eight tests.
Beyond March 2016 (the first official administration of the new SAT), College Board will maintain its current commitment to its Q&A Service – releases of exams, correct answers, and a student’s own answers – for the May and October 2016, and the January 2017 SAT.
College Board/Khan Academy
The Khan Academy partnership continues to be held up by College Board as a game-changer for students, especially those who choose self-directed test prep. College Board is promising that extensive additional content will be made available through Khan and that this content will be as well-calibrated to the actual test as the material being developed by College Board’s in-house experts (who have trained and continue to evaluate the Khan content developers). We are hopeful that this partnership will fulfill its promise and these new resources will be a win for students.
Khan Academy’s test prep materials will be available at the end of May 2015. A principal feature is its diagnostic test feedback with suggestions for focused study. The hope is that in the future, students will be able to input PSAT scores and receive equivalent recommendations on where to focus future study in preparation for the SAT.
Comparing New SAT Scores with Old – and with the ACT
This is a tough one for the College Board. With the appearance of many new sub-scores on this test, with the elimination of a guessing penalty, and with the return to a maximum score of 1600, there are considerable unknowns regarding score interpretation. Only results of the first cohort of SAT test-takers will shed some light on this situation. The College Board has indicated that they will have an SAT-ACT concordance at some point, but just when is unclear. For the PSAT, the concordance between old and new may be available as soon as Thanksgiving of this year. We don’t know yet how scores will align between old and new versions of the PSAT and the SAT.
Adding to the anxiety of some is the fact that College Board will likely delay the reporting of scores of the first March 2016 test – possibly as late as May 2016! Thankfully, ACT will continue to deliver results a few weeks after each testing date. Will students be able to wait for the new SAT results as they plan their college application and testing schedule? We’ll see.
In any case, the College Board reps say that class of 2017 college applicants will find that schools will accept both old and new SAT scores. Still, can a current sophomore, who wants to wait until the end of the junior year for testing, afford to take a chance with potentially fewer practice tests? Based upon everything we have seen and heard, we recommend that the class of 2017 migrate toward the ACT, a good choice because of the plethora of materials available today for practice. The other alternative is for these students to begin to prep NOW for the existing SAT, and take it early in their junior year and again in January 2016, the last time the SAT in its current format will be given.
In Part 2, read about the New PSAT