Which SAT should I take – Old or New?

The SAT is changing this March, and there is a lot of confusion about the effect this has on students in the classes of 2017 and 2018. Prior to this year, students typically took the SAT twice—once in the spring of their Junior year, and once in the fall of Senior year. Some students would opt to take the test earlier in order to benefit from the superscoring practices of many colleges, where they, in an attempt to acknowledge the stress that comes with the testing process, would combine your best section scores from multiple tests to create a superscore. This year, however, there is a lot more to consider when deciding when (or if) to take the SAT.

First, let’s dispel some of the fear surrounding the switch.

For the class of 2017, most colleges and universities plan to accept both the current and redesigned SAT. This means that Juniors can safely take and submit either test. Those in the class of 2018 and beyond will want to take the redesigned test.

Both tests will still be superscored, though not necessarily between the two different tests. Some colleges have stated that they will be superscoring between the two different tests, but it is probably safest to assume that most will not, as they are fundamentally as different tests as the SAT and ACT are.

With these two facts in mind, students should base their decision on which test to take based on which they are most comfortable with and which they can spend the most quality time preparing for, not the fear that their results will be invalid.

Students have the following options:

  1. Take only the current SAT – Current Juniors can opt to take the test once-to-twice between October and January, and should they receive the scores they want be completely done. This is an especially good option for those who have already scored well on their PSATs or a practice SAT.
  2. Take only the redesigned SAT – Juniors who feel they will not have mastered enough of the necessary content or who are extremely busy in the fall may opt to take the test in the spring as recommended by CollegeBoard.
  3. Take both – Juniors who want to be extra prepared may want to just start with the current test and remain willing to take the new one when it arrives. Yes, the tests’ structures are very different, but much of the content is similar, and studying more is almost never a bad thing.
  4. Take neither – The ACT is only seeing minor changes in the essay section, and since most schools in the U.S. will accept either the SAT or the ACT, Juniors that are still wary of the SAT changes can take this test without fear. Alternatively, many more schools are going test-optional, so you may not need to take any test.


No matter what you decide, do so informed. Take advantage of the free sample SAT, redesigned SAT, and ACT tests available on the publishers’ respective websites, or take them for free in one of our centers and receive a free consultation where we will break down your results, discuss the differences between the various tests, and provide guidance on which is best for you.

If you have any questions about any of these tests, please contact us.

Mike Constanza is the Director of Learning and Technology for Silver Oak Learning K-12. His expertise is primarily in reading, writing, SAT and ACT prep.

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