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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. 

Many 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

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.


Sneak peek at the  NEW SAT questions

Still curious about what the NEW SAT will look like? The College Board released Test Specifications For The Redesigned SAT to give parents and students a glimpse at some of the questions and to reveal more details about the changes to this historic test. We would recommend reading it to get the “full scoop” of what’s changing and how best to prepare for these changes.


When should my child start prepping?
Regardless which test your child chooses, it’s recommended to start prepping 3-4 months prior to the test for the best possible outcome. The advantage of prepping for such an extended period of time is that it allows the student to “pace themselves” in their studies so they’re not cramming. The summer before a child’s junior year is a great time to prep without all of the school distractions.


The bottom line
Hopefully we’ve helped shed some light on what to expect in the coming months (and years) on how the NEW SAT will affect your child. Just remember, if you’d like to avoid the new SAT, current high school sophomores should consider bumping up their testing schedule. Usually, most juniors begin taking the SAT or ACT in winter or spring of their junior year. Under these circumstances, it would be best to considering taking either college test (ACT or SAT) this coming fall and aim to finish all college testing by the end of January, which will be the last test date involving the current SAT. As a final incentive to avoid the new SAT, the College Board has already announced that test results from the March and May 2016 test will be delayed until 6 – 8 weeks after the test! Need we say more…..ACT or current SAT. Leave the uncertainty to others.


Testive offers a FREE online SAT/ACT test prep platform as well as a variety of paid coaching programs. Want to learn more about the NEW SAT? Sign-up for their NEW SAT Academy or NEW SAT Webinar. Want to learn more about Testive, visit

The NEW SAT: What it means for your student

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