High school juniors: with your return to school imminent, the SAT exam looms large. You would typically be asking yourselves two test-prep related questions: When should I take the SAT? (after adequate preparation) and Should I also take the ACT? (it’s always worth a shot). However, this year, you need to decide not only between the ACT and SAT but between the old SAT and the new SAT. There are a lot of conflicting arguments and ideas floating around the internet and guidance offices, so I wanted to shed some light on the respective advantages of the two versions (and as you’ll see, there is some overlap)! Essentially, there really isn’t a wrong way to do this. As long as you prepare in advance, you’ll be fine on whichever exam you take.
Reasons why you should take the old SAT:
1) It’s a known entity.
This exam has been around for over 10 years and has had over 70 administrations (more than 140 when you consider Sunday exams).
2) There is a ton of material available to prepare for it.
In addition to the exams the College Board has released through their website and book, countless 3rd party companies have compiled countless study guides.
3) You might be better at it.
As much as any so-called expert can pontificate about why it’s more important to take the new SAT, none of their reasons matter if your particular skills and ways of thinking are better suited for the challenges of the older version of the SAT.
4) You have the time and availability to prepare in the fall.
Sometimes the most important determinant in when to take the SAT exam is your own schedule. A student who plays sports in the winter and spring would be better off using his or her extra time and energy to prepare for the old SAT in the fall.
Reasons why you should take the new SAT:
1) You might be better at it.
As much as any so-called expert can pontificate about why it’s more important to take the old SAT, none of their reasons matter if your particular skills and ways of thinking are better suited for the challenges of the newer version of the SAT.
2) Your best time and availability is in the winter and/or spring.
Sometimes the most important determinant in when to take the SAT exam is your own schedule. A student who only plays sports in the fall would be better off using his or her extra time and energy to prepare for the new SAT in the winter or spring.
3) Even though it’s new you are on the same level playing field as all the other test takers.
Taking a new version of the SAT would be incredibly daunting if select students had a special knowledge of what to expect on the exam. Fortunately, all students have equal access to the materials that are being made available and it is up to you to best prepare – just like it is on the current version of the exam.
Many people don’t like change. Unfortunately for them, the only constant in life is change. The SAT changes every so often. It’s never been a problem and isn’t like to be this time.
I suspect you may have been looking for more specific guidance on which version of the SAT to focus your efforts on. Without a crystal ball, it’s pretty difficult to know which is more worthy of your efforts (but by taking a practice exam of each type, you can get a decent idea). My best advice: give yourself time to prepare, whichever version you opt to take.