The New SAT: Good and Bad News
When the first “new SAT” test was administered in 2016, many counselors and test tutors advised students to choose the tried-and-true ACT over the new, untested SAT. But if you’re applying for college next year, there is now more information about the new SAT test to help guide your decision.
There were a few minor mishaps with the new SAT roll-out, but no disasters
Some students avoided the new SAT because something often goes wrong with the roll-out of anything new. Besides a few minor issues and the delayed release of the March 2016 scores, the new test administration has gone fairly smoothly. So, barring unforeseen events, the fear of being a guinea pig for a new format should not be as strong this coming year.
The new test is more closely aligned to school curriculum (and closer to the ACT)
Test-takers and education experts all agree that the new SAT more closely fits the work students have done in school. Anecdotal feedback from students and school counselors shows that many students were more comfortable with the new format than the old one because it more closely relates to their studies and is more straightforward than the previous version. This might explain why…
Scores are up, at least numerically
As discussed by the Washington Post and on the College Board’s website, the scores on each section of the new test have been higher than the corresponding section of the old test. (The new scores, however, are out of 1600, while the previous test was out of 2400.) While the old test’s two-section average was 1000, the new average is 1090, and a new score of 1200 corresponds to an old score of 1130. These concordance tables and the SAT score converter from the College Board show how the old scores compare with the new.
Higher scores are good, right? Well, not necessarily. What colleges really care about is how you compare with other applicants. When you look up the score ranges for your dream colleges and set goals, make sure to check the applicant score range of the “new SAT,” because it will be different than the old test. Students preparing for the test may need to set their score goals higher than they previously thought, but these scores should be easier to reach. On a positive note, it’s now easier to “outperform” the scores your parents or older siblings got in high school—just don’t tell them about the score converter!
The good news
With two tests to choose from, you can decide which test works best for you. Test prep companies and tutors have now had a chance to develop their new SAT materials and learn the test content more fully, so there are practice tests and preparation materials available for both tests. The best way to tell which test is best for you is to try out a free practice test for each one. Then, compare your score with the score ranges of your dream schools—just be sure to use the score ranges for the new SAT test and not the old one.
As with any admissions test, preparation and practice are still the keys to achieving your goal score, and the earlier you start, the better!