The New SAT vs. The Current SAT: What Should You Do?
This is a huge question—and one you’ll need to answer quickly. Come March 2016, nobody will ever be able to take the current SAT (at least for an official score). So if you’ve been cramming vocabulary words, taking prep classes, and writing so many 25-minute essays that it feels like a large quadruped sat on your hand, you might be making a big mistake by not taking the current SAT.
Or you might not.
Everybody is in a different boat, but there are some typical boats, so let me generalize a little.
Boat #1: You’ve taken the SAT and need to retake the test just one more time.
You’ve taken the current SAT two or three times already. You are considering one final retake since, hey, this will be your last shot.
What should you do?
Well, if you are submitting your scores to a school that allows you to submit a superscore*, take the SAT as many times as you can—money and time permitting—before the test changes in March 2016 (you’ll only have November, December and January).
If you want to go to a school that requires you to send all your score reports, you might want to reconsider taking the test, especially if you have taken the test numerous times and hit a plateau. For one, students often struggle to find adequate prep time during the busy school year.
Secondly, the SAT might not be the test you shine in. Indeed, you might have the skill set that matches up better with the New SAT. In that case, you should start already studying for the redesigned test instead of wasting your time studying for a test that you won’t be as competitive at.
*Superscore: many schools allow you to take your best score and don’t require that you send in every SAT score.
Boat #2: You want to wait for the new test
You haven’t even looked at the current test but figure that you’ll just take the new test.
What should you do?
Don’t do what you are currently doing—nothing.
Think about it: imagine you had a choice between two schools, one a university with huge lecture halls that is located in a big city, and the other a liberal arts school tucked away in an expanse of rolling meadows. Which one is right for you? Well, if I gave you the opportunity to study at one for a summer session, you’d jump at the opportunity. That way, you’d have a better sense of whether it’s right for you. Not taking that opportunity is like letting the chance to take the current SAT slip by.
The reality is that the tests are as different as the two schools depicted in the previous paragraph. If it turns out that you are more adept at the current SAT, but realize it too late, then you are in trouble.
This even goes for those of you who are only sophomores. Don’t think you have all the time in the world; if the current SAT plays to your strengths, you’ll only have till this March.
Boat #3: You’ve prepped for the current SAT, but think you can do better on the new SAT
You have taken prep classes for the current SAT, but you actually haven’t taken an official test. You don’t like your score and are hoping that maybe you’ll do better on the new test.
What should you do?
Don’t be ruled by uncertainty—act! The truth is you don’t know how you’ll do on the new test. But by taking the SAT before it changes, you’ll at least have a baseline score.
To reiterate: many schools will not frown upon you taking the test more than once. Really speaking many schools don’t care if you take the SAT until you are blue(book) in the face. It all depends on the school. So follow up with the specific schools you have in mind to find out.
So that was the super long answer to the question posed in the title.
The short answer: take both.
You’d be crazy not to.
Now, you might be wondering what test you are better at. There is a real easy way to find out, though it admittedly sucks a little. Specifically, it’ll suck three hours of your time. Go to the Khan Academy site and take an actual practice test (this is free).
Assuming you’ve taken a current SAT test, compare your performance (if not, you’ll have to spend a few more hours taking that test, too). While there is no scale yet available to see exactly how the tests compare, you can still get a sense of what test is better for you. Did you catch the current SAT’s tricks? Did you struggle to remember the advanced algebra rules? Did you understand the passage on the current SAT but somehow manage to flub many of the questions?
There is only one way to find out.
Did you know that Magoosh offers online test prep for the New SAT exam, as well as the current SAT? We also give discounts for purchasing subscriptions for more than one exam. Learn more at newsat.magoosh.com.