The scope of the SAT redesign, in terms of style, content, and philosophy, steers this once predictable exam into uncharted waters. While the College Board has released a full practice PSAT/NMSQT Practice Test in the new format and various examples of the redesigned SAT, many questions remain. To a large extent, the PSAT administered in October 2015 and the SAT first offered in March 2016 will be brand new to the world. If your teen is a sophomore this year, do you want him or her to be among the first to sit for the new test?
Early indications suggest that the new SAT will be more challenging in many ways than the current SAT or ACT, which may be sufficient reason to avoid it. Of even greater concern are the entirely new question types and content. The great strength of the College Board has historically been the design and delivery of statistically valid college admissions assessments. Until this exam has been sufficiently normed and tested, colleges may be hesitant to use its scores for admissions purposes.
And isn’t college admissions what these tests are all about? The reason any student sits for the SAT or ACT is to earn a score that facilitates entry to that dream school, hopefully with a generous scholarship. Based on past history, most colleges are likely to wait for the College Board to work out the bugs in the new test before depending on its data. Many schools may want new SAT scores for evaluative purposes, but admissions decisions are likely to be based on scores from the ACT or current SAT.
At Chariot Learning, we’ve always promoted early preparation. One of the best times for students, especially those targeting competitive colleges, to prepare for the SAT and ACT is during the summer before 11th grade. Every year, we see students earn their target scores by December of junior year—sometimes even before their PSATs—which frees them to focus more effectively on high stakes spring tests like finals, APs, and Regents.
A proactive approach to planning and preparing for the SAT and ACT has never been more important than now. Some students may naturally find this new “Common Core SAT” a better fit for their particular strengths, but most will benefit from focusing on the tests we all currently know and, if not love, at least respect. Put your teen in position to take the SAT and ACT early in junior year. The best plan for the new SAT may simply be to avoid it.