Timing is everything—especially when it comes to college admissions tests.
For the past decade, students have all followed the same timeline for testing. Generally, students prepared in the summer and fall of their Junior year, then took the test in the spring. They could also pick whichever test felt more comfortable: either the SAT or ACT. But with changes coming to both the ACT and SAT over the next two years, students have to change much of this timeline.
Below are some quick recommendations on how to handle this transition period. The general rule of thumb is to take the test when you are ready, and to take the test that has changed the least at that point. Keep in mind that this is a general guideline….each student is unique, and may have additional factors to consider in making this decision.
JUNIORS: Class of 2016
Relax, because the new testing material will have little effect on you. You can take either test, and follow the traditional timeline. If you choose to take the SAT, you will be done with your tests before the change happens. If you choose to take the ACT, just plan to finish your last test in the spring of your Junior year to avoid the new, slightly modified test in the fall of your Senior year. Remember, you will need to take the test 2-3 times, so plan accordingly.
SOPHOMORES: Class of 2017
Unfortunately, you will be the class that really feels the transition. But fear not! There is a plan for you, too. For most of you, the best option is to commit to the ACT. There will be a few small changes to the ACT, but for the most part very little will change. With fewer changes than the SAT, there is less risk in taking the ACT. You can take the exam at the traditional times in your Junior and Senior years.
The only case in which you should prepare for the SAT is if you can take the test before the SAT changes. To make this plan work, you will have to prepare for the SAT beginning in the spring of Sophomore year and through the summer after Sophomore year. Then you will take the SAT in the fall of your Junior year: the first time in October and the second time in November. The old SAT will be offered one last time in December of your Junior year. Use that December test as a backup, in case you need to take the test three times.
Your class will be the first one to take the new PSAT in the fall of your Junior year. There is no option for you to take the old PSAT. But remember that the PSAT is not submitted as part of your college application, so no need to stress.
FRESHMEN: Class of 2018
The changes to the SAT and ACT will happen before you are ready to take the exams, so you don’t have the option to take the old versions. For most of you, the best option is to commit to the ACT. There will be a few small changes to the ACT, but the changes will be almost unnoticeable. With fewer changes than the SAT, there is less risk with the ACT. You can take the exam at the traditional times in your Junior and Senior years.
If you are in the Class of 2018 and have to take the new SAT for some reason, stay tuned. By the time you are ready to start prepping, the College Board will have finalized the new version of the SAT and released much more information. Chyten will also have new data and plenty of preparatory materials to help you prepare and make the best decisions regarding the new SAT.