What changes are being made to the SAT? Should I choose my testing date according to which format will be available?

I'm in community college and want to retake my SATs for when I transfer to a four year school.


Karen Berlin Ishii, One-to-One Test Prep and Homework Help

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Some four-year colleges will be interested only in your transcript from your community college, not your SATs, so contact the admission offices of the schools you are interested in to find out their policies.

The decision to take the current SAT – which will be offered through 2015 and in January 2016 – or the redesigned SAT, which will start in March 2016, depends partly on when you need to present your test scores. You could take a practice SAT in the current iteration and one in the new format, both of which are downloadable from the College Board website. There is, however, no concordance chart or data yet, so you won't be able to compare your results. You might get a feeling, though, of which test suits you better.

While you are contacting admissions offices, you should ask if they have a preference for the current test or the new one, and also whether they require or recommend that you write the essay if you are taking the redesigned exam. That makes a big difference in your time spent in preparation and on the exam, as the new exam's essay is 50 minutes long – twice as long as the current exam's version.

You might also consider the ACT and ask if that is acceptable in lieu of the SAT. The new SAT is somewhat like the ACT in content, as it introduces harder math and science facility, with charts and graphs to analyze in every section of the test (yes, even in the reading and grammar sections). Check out the act.org website for a practice ACT to download and do. If you do practice tests to see which is the best fit, be sure to do each test in one (long!) sitting, using the bubble sheets, and timing yourself accurately. Don't just look the test over to get a feel for it; timing on the ACT and new SAT is particularly critical and will affect your scores more than on the current SAT.

Amir Mousavi, Tutor, Dog Lover, Yogi

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If you're currently a rising junior, you should avoid taking the SAT regardless of the changes being made. Many of these changes (optional essay, going back to 1600 point scale, no guessing penalty) is a response to the fact that the SAT has been steadily losing market share to the ACT for the last several years. Additionally, there is isn't a lot of reliable prep material (as compared to the current SAT and ACT), given that it's a new exam. That's why I would avoid the new SAT until there are more exams offered..which gives test prep companies more data to develop better study materials.

Rising juniors should either take the current SAT (last exam dates offered Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan) or the ACT. You should take both an SAT and ACT practice exam to figure out which format is right for you. For more information, read this article by Anthony Green: a test prep guru that sums it up quite nicely (http://bit.ly/1S6T4Ph) and another article about why to avoid the new SAT (http://read.bi/1CxCyj9). You can also check out these game planning videos (http://bit.ly/1D1xQLY), in which I talk about the New SAT as well as which exam format is right for you. Hope that helps!

Michael Schoch, Noodle Intern

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Great question. Here is information directly from College Board about the changes to the SAT. There's also a page on the revised test's design.

I'm not an expert on the subject, and judging from the information available, it's very difficult to say whether one test is intrinsically easier than the other. The new SAT is marketed as being more practical and more reflective of what high school students are currently learning. The new tests will put more emphasis on placing words in the correct context and using evidence effectively. The essay section will be critical in nature. Another major change is that there will be no additional penalty for getting a question wrong. Students will instead only earn points for questions answered correctly.

Without knowing more about your learning style or what kind of student you are, my advice would be to read about the new test and decide if it sounds better suited to you and your preferences. Also, consider how long you will need to prepare. If you plan on doing a substantial amount of test-prep, you may want to give yourself more time, if not, you may want to take the test as soon as possible.

The new tests will be administered starting March 2016, so you have the option to take both an old and a new version.

For more advice and information, I recommend visiting the SAT Preparation page on Noodle. You can find expert-written articles and answers to a range of questions.

Another great resource is Noodle's tutor listing which includes contact information for professionals who specialize in test-prep.

Best of luck and enjoy the rest of your summer!

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