SAT, ACT, and Redesigned SAT...oh my!

Soon, there will be a new SAT in town...again.  The last SAT format revision was in 2005; yet another version of the test will premiere in March 2016, just 11 years later.  This relatively quick overhaul makes one question the College Board's claim that the current SAT "is a proven, reliable indicator of college success."  If it's so reliable, why do we need a completely new test?  But that's a question for another time!

One of the most frequent questions I receive runs along the lines of, "What's the difference between the SAT and ACT?"  To help answer this question, I've created this table.  Students in the class of 2016 should not worry about the Redesigned SAT, and students in the class of 2017 and beyond really should not worry about the current SAT.

I've read mixed recommendations for what the class of 2017 should do about the SAT.  These include "Take the current SAT while you can and then be done by January!" and "Take both tests and then submit scores from the better one!"  Honestly, you can probably find someone who recommends whatever timeline it is that you want to follow.  For what it's worth, here's my suggestion for the class of 2017:

  • Fall of Junior Year: Take the Redesigned PSAT (October) and the ACT (October, December, and/or February).
  • Spring of Junior Year: Take the SAT (March--be a pioneer!). Retake the SAT* (May or June) or ACT (April or June).
  • Fall of Senior Year: If desired, retake the SAT or ACT (check with colleges for testing deadlines).

*Make sure you consider whether or not you need to take any SAT Subject Tests and check to see when your subjects are offered.  You cannot take the Redesigned SAT and your SAT Subject Tests on the same test date.

Note that, in keeping with my recommendations above, I will prep only seniors for the October, November, December, and January SAT test dates in the 2015-2016 school year.  I encourage younger students to consider ACT prep during this time frame or to wait to prep for the Redesigned SAT in the spring semester.