This year’s sophomores are in an awkward position. Should they shift their schedule to take the current SAT before the exam is overhauled in Spring of 2016? Or should they wait to try their hands at the brand new exam?
Though there are exceptions, most students in the Class of 2017 are better off taking the current (“old”) SAT.
- You’ll have access to more study materials: This cannot be overstated. The College Board hasn’t changed the SAT since 2005, so test prep companies and tutors have had plenty of time to help students figure out the best way to tackle the current material and format. This is hugely valuable, especially if you’re the kind of person who plans to spend a lot of time and energy on prep.
- It might be more difficult: Though the changes to the SAT will advantage some students and disadvantage others, many test prep authorities believe that the overall difficulty of the exam for the average student will increase. The College Board has already released one set of practice questions for the new test, and many people have been surprised by the higher difficulty level.
- No one wants to be the guinea pig: The new SAT is an unknown quantity, and the scores for the first few months will be unpredictable. It might take a few months for the College Board to work out the kinks, so we recommend that everyone avoid the March, April and June 2016 SAT exams.
- You get to choose: If you don’t do as well as you’d hoped on the current SAT, you can still wait until March 2016 and take the new version too, then see which score reflects your abilities more clearly. There are some students who might perform better on the new SAT, such as students who already have a lot of experience with Common Core-based curriculum. However, this is not universal. We recommend taking the old SAT, and then giving the new SAT a shot if you’re unhappy with your score.
The bottom line is that for those of you in the Class of 2017, the best thing to do is start by taking the old SAT. Some colleges have already said that they will accept both, and more are expected to announce their choice soon. So if you’re a member of the class of 2017, it certainly benefits you to try your luck at the old exam. And remember, you can always try again with the new SAT if you’re not happy with your score.