The SAT is changing in March 2016, but if you’ve already taken the test—no matter how you did—you may be wondering if you should retake the test in the new format.
Essentially, the College Board has changed the test to more closely reflect what students learn in school as well as the skills college students really need. The new version’s changes include the following:
- The English section is based more on understanding context and interpreting meaning of texts than memorization
- The Math section involves more “real world” problem solving
- The essay portion is now optional and involves textual analysis rather than defending a particular position
- The elimination of a penalty for guessing and one fewer multiple choice question
If you haven’t already taken the old SAT, you don’t really have an option here; you have to take the new one if you want to take the SAT—you could also choose to take the ACT instead. However, the deadline for the old SAT has passed.
If you did well on the old SAT, it really depends on your personal preference, meaning if you really think you have room for improvement or if you’re aiming for a perfect score. One writer interviewed 30+ schools and the unanimous response was that they would still accept the old SAT for the remainder of 2016 graduates and switch to the new one for the Class of 2017. If you’re in the Class of 2018 (or later), you might need to take the new test, but it’s best to check with your school of choice so you can make a more informed decision particular to your goals.
If you did poorly on the old SAT and are interested in attempting the new test for a better score, do your research before committing to a second attempt. There are all kinds of strategies for when you should and shouldn’t retake the SAT (examples listed below).
- The College Panda: Should you retake the SAT?
- Should you retake the SAT or ACT? 3 Step Process
- The SAT and ACT: To Retest or Not?
The above sources obviously pertain to the old SAT, but the principles are still valid. Because the new test is different, if you did poorly on the old SAT it’s worth a shot to see if the new format is a better fit. This is especially true if you did poorly from a lack of study, as the new format is less focused on memorization and more focused on things you would have learned in school already.
If you got an average score on the old SAT and you don’t expect to do better on the new one, you should only do so if you’re curious about what the new test is like. Otherwise, if you think you’ll do about the same, don’t worry about retaking it. As stated above, almost every college will accept the old SAT for the Class of 2017.
Taking the SAT is just one small part of getting ready to apply for college. For more information about what else is involved in the application process, download the Ultimate College Decision Timeline to keep track of all your progress toward getting that acceptance letter.