The NEW SAT: What it means for your student

Because the upcoming new SAT (March of 2016) from the College Board can have significant affect on testing and prepping plans for current sophomores, we asked our friends at Testive to give us their opinion on the new test and what to do. 


David Coleman New SATMany parents reading may be wondering how the release of the 2016 SAT affects their child and what they should do about it. Of course the most pressing question for parents and students is which test should you take: the old SAT, the new SAT, or the ACT.

Well, If your child is graduating in 2016 or before, stop reading now because the new SAT will not affect them.

But, If your child is graduating in the class of 2017, our recommendation, for most students, is to take the current SAT or ACT, not the new 2016 SAT.

This past December, the College Board released a sample problem set, reflective of what the new SAT and PSAT will look like starting in FALL 2015 for the PSATs and March of 2016 for the SAT. The increased level of difficulty as compared to the current SAT was extremely surprising. Based on these samples, we foresee the new SAT to be significantly more challenging than the current SAT. 

All colleges will accept the 2016 SAT, the current SAT, and the ACT for students graduating in the class of 2017. The College Board has committed to publishing a set of equivalency tables that admissions officers will be able to use to judge students of both SATs against one another. Since the class of 2017 can take any of the three tests, we are recommending either the current SAT or the ACT because there is much more certainty regarding the content of those tests. Taking the 2016 SAT in its first run leaves students vulnerable to extreme uncertainty. Let someone less-informed be the guinea pig.


If your child is graduating in 2018, or beyond, and you want to start preparing now, take the ACT.

For students preparing now and graduating in 2018 and beyond, there is only one well-specified test that students can study for now: the ACT. The ACT is a very stable test, it has great preparation resources, and there are plenty of great teachers available to guide students through the test effectively. Delaying prep while waiting for the SAT to become more certain is a high-opportunity-cost gamble at best. Better to start working now on something you can predict. 


If your child is graduating in 2018 or later, is stronger at math, and HATES the ACT, then read onward!

This is the only small niche of students who should be preparing for the 2016 format of the SAT. There is a slight advantage to taking the 2016 format of the SAT for people who are much stronger at math. The reason for this is that the 2016 format of the SAT gives a slightly greater weight to math than the ACT does. The ACT has four sub-tests, two of which test math: math and science. The math section is all math and the science test is approximately half math. The ACT, therefore, allocates approximately 3/8 of it’s composite score to math. The 2016 format of the SAT allocates 1/2 of it’s score to math.


More on why your child should consider the ACT

If you are on the fence between the SAT and ACT, here is some of our reasoning for why the ACT makes sense: The ACT is more stable, more predictable, and therefore easier to prepare for. The ACT is taken by more students each year than the SAT. The ACT covers almost the exact same set of content

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  1. Seems like bad timing for the College Board to make a big change when colleges are already moving away from requiring SATs. I can’t imagine the results will be very useful without several years is data.

    • Great point. College admissions and testing is ripe for being disruptive and coming up with a new process. It would have been better to see more innovated thinking rather then just revamping an old approach.

  2. I love the recommendation. As an SAT tutor, it has always been my prescription that students prepare for the SAT after their sophomore year in order to be done during their first semester of their junior year. Using that strategy, the new SAT should not be an issue for 2017 grads. Additionally, we believe that the new SAT will be much harder to prepare for, meaning that students should take the current test if possible.

  3. […] Create a test prep plan for taking your first SAT and/or ACT.  Take the PSAT and PLAN. Review the year’s scheduled dates for SATs, ACTs, and SAT subject tests. Depending on your student’s results, plan test dates so they can take the test twice before the start of senior year. Senior year is very stressful and students should consider taking the SAT/ACT in the fall of senior year only if they feel they can do better than previous tests. Unfortunately for current Juniors (class of 2017), the introduction of the new SAT in March 2016, has changed many experts opinions on how to schedule testing and which test to take. The overwhelming recommendation from most experts is to avoid the new SAT. This means pushing a student’s testing schedule back to take more tests in the fall of their junior year and/or taking the ACT. Read more about the new SAT may mean for your high school junior. […]

  4. The Class of 2017 has been the most abused class in modern history, every change at every level has been pressed on them (new standardized tests, standards based learning, multi-grade classrooms, full-day kindergarten, new age cutoffs, team realignments always breaking up 2017s, new SAT, etc. etc.), its truly mind-boggling these poor students, one year its this way, the next its in transition, the next its this way, also applied in sports (one year full field, next year half field, one year contact, next year no contact, etc.). Our child class of 2019 has not even seen 10% of the change the class of 2017 has seen.


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