Preparing for the Redesigned SAT

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Before we delve into the redesigned SAT (rSAT), let’s take a moment to put things in perspective. The SAT and ACT are the “Coke and Pepsi” of the test preparation world. Both companies vie to be the number one standardized test for college admissions and strive to remain current and relevant to universities admissions’ requirements. The ACT and SAT both go through changes periodically in an effort to better themselves and increase their statistical validity and predictability for student success in college.

In its most recent incarnation—which debuted in 2006—the SAT eliminated analogies and quantitative comparisons and added a Writing Section. For the 2015 iteration, they are making the Writing Section optional and reverting back to the old 1600 scale.

Before we get into the details of how to prepare, the team at Cornerstone Academic has come up with a handy chart that outlines the differences between the current SAT, the new SAT, and the ACT. You can download it here.

So, what does this mean for your student?

Normally, these types of changes would not affect your high school student. Typically, most students take their first standardized tests in the form of the PSAT (offered in 10th and 11th grade), and many elect to take the SAT/ACT for the first time in the spring of their junior year and then in the fall of their senior year (if they are unhappy with their original score). Some advanced students start the standardized test prep journey as second semester sophomores.

With the SAT changing in March 2016 (assuming there are no delays), the last chance to take the current SAT will be in January 2016. Based on which grade your student is in, here is what we recommend:

  • Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in fall 2015 should take the current SAT at least once. It’s important that you lock in your score on the current version of the exam because it is heavily researched and trainable—that is, our current preparation methods have been very effective on this exam. Additionally, you’ll want to lock in your score on this test (especially if you’re a sophomore or junior in fall 2015) in case you don’t do quite as well on the rSAT.
  • If you’re a sophomore or junior in fall 2015, then you should take the new SAT in March 2016 or later so you can gauge how you do on both versions of the test. It might be that you score better (percentile-wise) on one version of the exam over the other.

Additionally, students can also take the ACT. Cornerstone Academic offers free practice exams for both tests so students can see which one they do better on and then approach a test preparation method that suits them. Learn more here.

Regardless of which test you pursue, preparation is very important. With so much on the line and the increasing importance these tests play in the college admissions decision, students and parents should begin preparing as early as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about our preparation methods, you can visit our Test Preparation page.