Which Test Do I Prepare For?
Many people reading this are wondering how the release of the 2016 SAT affects them and what they should do about it. The highest level question is which test to take. Here are the quick answers.
If you are graduating in 2016 or before, stop reading now because the new SAT will not affect you.
The 2016 SAT will be available to students in the spring of 2016. This is too late to have any effect on the class of 2016 because it is after college application deadlines for students in that class.
If you are graduating in the class of 2017, take the 2005 SAT or the ACT.
All colleges will accept the 2016 SAT, the 2005 SAT, and the ACT for students graduating in the class of 2017. 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 2005 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 you are 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 you’re graduating in 2018 or later, are stronger at math, and HATE 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 you 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 as the SAT, so any studying you have done already is not lost. The ACT is accepted by every college and university in the country, it’s a mandatory test in eight states, and you can start preparing to take it now. Leave the uncertainty to others. There is no first-mover advantage in admissions testing. There is a first-mover disadvantage.
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