The new SAT will go live during the March 2016 test administration. It will be significantly different from the current SAT, both in format and content. In support of the new test, the College Board has published a new Official Study Guide. As of right now, The College Board has 4 practice tests in their new book. If you take one of these tests, you are directed to the College board website for instructions on how to score the test. When you go to the website you will discover a nine page document that tells you how to score the test. If it takes nine pages to explain test scoring, we’re in trouble.
Since the test is entirely new, there are no available statistics upon which to base scoring. As a result, no one knows how reliable actual test scores will be. This is the dilemma that will plague many college admissions officers. As a result, the first year of new SAT scores will be virtually useless to colleges. It may be fair to say that the first few years of scores may be useless. It is well documented that colleges are reluctant to embrace new test formats until the kinks and the statistics have been worked out. Case in point – many colleges (including U of R, RIT, Saint John Fisher and Nazareth) continue to ignore the SAT writing score which has been in place for nearly 10 years. So what does this all mean?
Unless the College Board drags your child kicking and screaming out of your house on March 5, 2016, do not let them sit for the new test. There are alternatives which I will explain below
1. Take the ACT instead. The real reason that The SAT was changed is because the College Board has lost significant market share to the ACT. In fact, more students take the ACT than the SAT. Why? Because the ACT has always been a better test (not that any standardized test is a good test). The ACT is less tricky and rewards a fundamental knowledge of basic high school math.
2. Until March, take the old SAT. There are still 4 old SATs left (October 3, 2015, November 7, 2015, December 5, 2015 and January 23, 2016. There is plenty of time left to prepare for these tests.
3. Consider taking the old SAT as a sophomore. Contrary to what the College Board tells you in their glossy books, a basic understanding of middle school geometry and algebra Is all you need. I would even go so far as to make the following bold statement: All you need to know you learned by 7th grade.
As you consider these alternatives, remember that most colleges will take whatever score makes your student look best. As you make your college visits and do your internet research, ask questions. They will be happy to help!