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Considerations for taking the Current SAT, the New SAT, or the ACT

Nov 17th, 2015 | ACT, Changes, College Admissions, SAT

Students in the class of 2017 have more options than they can easily navigate. Should they take the old SAT, the new SAT, or the ACT?

There are arguments to be made for each test, and it mostly boils down to the strengths and needs of the individual. Here are a few of the key reasons you might choose each:

Why take the Old/Current SAT?  The SAT has been the standard college exam for many decades, and there is a wealth of preparation materials and strategies out there for how to take and ace this test. If you’re not easily confused by burdened sentence structure and obscure vocabulary, the last administration of this exam – January 23rd – might work in your favor.

Why wait to take the New SAT?  This test will surely have kinks to work out, and there is not a lot of practice material available for students.  There are also many new types of questions that need to be validated over several administrations of the exam.  The norms for scoring have yet to be developed and colleges may find it challenging to interpret the results with the limited sample of students who have taken the exam by next Spring.  In the long run, we are hopeful that this will be a better SAT than the current exam, but we are recommending the ACT for most of the Juniors who work with us this year.

Why take the ACT this year? The ACT has generally been considered to be a very reliable indicator of college readiness and a more straightforward test than the SAT.  It has been accepted equally with the SAT by colleges for many years now.  With the changing SAT, it will be more readily understood by admissions personnel who will already know how it’s scoring relates to their admissions goals and enrollment management needs.

As we’ve mentioned in past blogs, we don’t recommend that students take the new SAT on the first three or so test dates so as to ensure that there is adequate practice material available and they aren’t just the “guinea pigs” of the College Board test designers. For the first few rounds, this new SAT should still be considered a work in progress, but we do believe the result is going to be a much better test, and one that will offer a better potential alternative to the ACT than the current SAT has been.