The SAT, ACT, and Common Core State Standards

SAT Prep | ACT Prep

The Times They are a Changin’!


Have you heard the news? The ACT and the SAT are both being revised and the changes will be unveiled in 2015.  This comes largely because a new federal program—The Common Core State Standard Initiative—is set to be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. New standards for our students? We’ll need a new way to test them to make sure they are learning all they need to learn.


We know that the ACT is going to have a computer-based test option, but we also predict it will bulk up reading of historical texts and add more writing requirements to better match the new standards. The SAT seems to have even more work to do, such as adding history and science texts, augmenting its writing and language sections, and increasing the math content.


Whenever a test is changed, students have to evaluate which version they should tackle: the old or the new? Some might feel it’s better to fight the beast we know rather than the one we have yet to meet. The current tests have been around a long time, so we know their weaknesses, their patterns, and their shortcuts. Let us help you decide which test to take, and when to start preparing.



Bad news, eleventh graders—you have no choice. Because the tests are not changing until the spring of your Senior year, you are forced to take the current versions of the ACT and SAT. But is this really such bad news? I’d rather take a test that has less content and more test prep resources. Right now, there are over 20 previously released and official SATs from which you can study. When the new test is revealed, test takers will have a small quantity of real tests to review and test prep experts like me will be scrambling to unlock the secrets of the updated version. I am so not looking forward to 2015. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets.



Tenth graders should consider taking the tests in 2014—both in the spring and the fall. This is especially true if you have taken Junior-level math courses. This means you need to start studying this coming winter, but this will benefit both your ACT, SAT, and PSAT prep (remember, you have to take the PSAT as a junior if you want to qualify for any National Merit scholarships). If you take the test but fail to achieve your target score, you can always take the new test in your junior and senior year. But you will have at least given yourself the opportunity to take the original—and possibly easier—versions of the ACT and SAT. I think the SAT stands to undergo the most changes, so if you can only take one test in 2014, take the SAT. Save the ACT—with fewer changes—for 2015.



Unless you are completing Junior-level classes before 2015, ninth graders should plan on taking the new tests in the spring of your Junior year. At that point, test prep experts will have had the new test material for over a year, so new secrets and shortcuts should have been revealed by then. It’s not ideal, but you’re a lot better off than the class ahead of you. When purchasing test prep material or courses, make sure that they state they are for the New SAT or New ACT. So for now, sit back and relax and try to concentrate on getting a great start in high school. Remember, your GPA is nearly as important as your ACT and SAT score, and how you perform in the next two years sets the basis for your GPA.


Until next week! Unless I win the lottery, of course.