Three Reasons Why You Should Take the SAT Before 2016

SAT Prep

As you have probably heard by now, a redesignedChange2 SAT is debuting in the spring of 2016. And this probably has some of you wondering if you should take the present test or wait until next year to take the new version. Few Juniors have a choice--you will be taking the test before it changes. But for current sophomores, I strongly urge you to take the test prior to March 2016. Here's why:

1. The current test has been studied extensively.

The present test has ten years of data behind it, meaning that current test prep books and courses have ten years of data—from over 80 real SATs—to prove they are solid study materials. As soon as the SAT changes, test prep experts—including yours truly—will be scurrying to analyze a limited number of exams released by the College Board in an effort to hastily make changes to course materials. As every new SAT is released, we’ll be fine tuning our books and courses each time we discover some new nuance of the test that wasn’t assessed in the handful of new tests in a new blue book (which isn't even due out until this summer). So by taking the current test, you can be assured you have access to top-notch prep books (like the SAT Bible Trilogy!).

 2. The current test is understood by admissions officers.

Another reason to take the test now is that admissions officers understand the current SAT and are thus able to better evaluate your performance. Take it from someone who was around for the roll out of the “New SAT” in 2005—that first year, colleges don’t know how to interpret the new scores because there were no other scores available for comparison. Plus, students were forced to take the new Writing portion of the test when virtually no universities used the results (and ten years later, about 25% of the colleges still don’t know what to do with them!). When the SAT changes, students who take it that first year may be unfairly disadvantaged in admissions.

3. The current test is a great assessment.

Finally, I believe the current SAT is a good, logic-based test. Unlike the ACT, it relies heavily on critical reasoning, which is the main reason the SAT has been favored by the Ivy League for so long. And test prep experts agree that the upcoming redesigned SAT appears to be a cross between an extremely difficult SAT (in which the critical reasoning has largely been removed) and the ACT.

Aside from a mediocre essay component, the current SAT is a superb intelligence test, and a great way to determine which high school seniors are ready for the rigors of college, where critical thinking just may be the most coveted skill. So for for now, I say better the SAT you know than the devil you don’t. 
As for you Freshmen, you have some options. First, if you are in the top 20% of your class, I would seriously consider trying the SAT out this winter, in your sophomore year, before the test changes next March. If you aren't in the top 20% or if you decide not to tackle the current SAT, then I believe that you should focus instead on the ACT for the first two reasons I suggest above: the test has been studied extensively by experts and college admissions officers are comfortable with the results. I would leave the redesigned SAT for students who will be forced to take it by their schools and districts (i.e. every junior in the state of Michigan) and students in the class of 2020 and beyond.
Photo: IMG_1760 by Robert Couse-Baker