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  • Writer's pictureHollis Bischoff

The Lowdown On The New SAT

The facts on the redesigned SAT:First new test will be administered in March, 2016

Test results will not be available until late May, after the second testing period. Test scores are usually available within 4 weeks.

Fall PSAT will be in new format. 1 practice test will be available in mid to late March.

In order to be a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, if you qualify from the new PSAT, you must take either the old or new SAT to confirm scores.

Reduced from 3 sections to 2 sections. Maximum score reduced from 2400 to 1600.

Essay is optional. BUT – so many schools will require it, that it cannot be considered optional. This is the same as for the ACT.

No penalty for incorrect answers, unlike the “old” SAT where there was a ¼ point deduction for incorrect answers. 8 practice tests are being developed for the initial SAT. Four will be available sometime in May, available in hardcopy or online via Khan Academy. The additional four will be released during the year, only through Khan Academy. Here are the content differences between the old and new tests:

Test prep companies like Princeton Review, Method Test Prep, Applerouth Tutoring should have initial test preparation classes by late summer. Since there is no history these testing materials will be based on minimal input. Scaling, which compares the ACT and SAT scores, as well as providing the curve for scoring will be difficult and potentially inaccurate since there is no history to calibrate against. Most testing companies, believe however, that it will take a year or 2 until test materials are as robust as ACT preparation materials.

Recommendations for the class of 2017:

There is no competitive gain to rushing in and taking the old SAT test before January, 2016. There appears to be little advantage to taking the first iteration of the new SAT test in March, 2016. Here are some considerations to making that decision:

In general, it is unwise to be the version 1.0 of a substantially changed testing environment with so many unknowns.

Test scores from the first test in March will not be available until late May, which means they will not be of any use in preparation for either the May or June tests.

It is still uncertain as to the depth and efficacy of training materials.

When it makes sense to take the new test:If your PSAT scores would make you potentially eligible for NSMF. If you score over 1520 (out of 1600) on the practice tests consistently. Note that scaled scores will not be available with the early tests. Scaled scores are estimated to be available in late summer.Otherwise, in this transition year, most prep firms are recommending sticking with the ACT as it is a known quantity with known preparation tactics. In general, only about ⅓ of all students do significantly better on the old SAT than on ACT so the impact of taking only the ACT is minimal.Recommendations for the class of 2018: In general, we recommend beginning testing no earlier than December or January of your Junior year. There are some rare specific situations in which you should take it earlier, but hang in there and don’t rush to test before June, 2016. We will keep you updated as we receive more information and the test becomes more mature.

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