Colleges use ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores to predict how a student will perform in their first year. It’s not the only metric schools use during the college application process (hey, we wrote a whole post on What Admissions Looks for Besides Your SAT Score), but it can’t hurt to do your best on the test!
The ACT and SAT are changing
It’s been 10 years since the last SAT overhaul, but changes are coming down the pipeline. Going forward, the SAT will change to more closely resemble the ACT. And the ACT will undergo its own changes, transitioning to a digital format beginning in the spring and fall of 2015. So what does this mean for high school students?
Juniors and seniors graduating in 2015 and 2016 won’t be affected by these changes. But high school sophomores graduating in 2017 will have the chance to take the new PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) beginning in October 2015, and will eventually be able to take the new SAT in March 2016 after its official launch.
Colleges and universities will likely accommodate the transition by accepting scores from both the new and old formats until all high school students are taking the SAT in its new form.
The new digital-format ACT will be released only to select school districts and high schools beginning in the spring/fall of 2015. For now, the test itself will not change, but the way students take it will slowly move to a digital format.
So when should I take it?
Despite upcoming test changes, it has always been a rule of thumb to take the ACT and SAT as early (and as many times) as possible. That’s why the PSAT exists, to prepare high school students for the type of testing they will experience with the SAT. CollegeBoard is a great place to start learning about the PSAT, and find out when and where you can take it in your area. They even offer sample test questions to practice online.
Most students first take the ACT and/or SAT during their junior year, while others wait until senior year. But many experts recommend taking it junior year to make sure you’ve got enough time for retakes if you don’t do so well the first time around. Most experts (like StudyPoint) report that test scores actually increase each time a student takes it. That’s why in our College Application Checklist we recommend that students take the PSAT in the fall of their junior year, then the actual SAT in the spring. That gives you plenty of time to study up over the summer and retake the test early senior year! To learn more and make sure you’re staying on track, download the College Application Checklist.