The New SAT: What is It? Do I Have to Take It?

Times they are a changing…

Which SAT Do I Take?

Which SAT Do I Take?

The SAT is changing format in 2016.  We’ve written a bit about the new test format, such that we are aware of, and you should check out our chart to see how it compares with the current SAT and the ACT. Here, we want to provide some broad advice for students during the transition on which test to take, when.

The first new-format SAT will be administered internationally in May 2016.  During the transition, universities will accept both the old and new tests for several years so there isn’t much danger of prior scores expiring.  The new test is still largely an unknown quality so our broad advice is “better the devil you know” and students should take the old test format if at all possible.  The old test also lends itself better to preparation than the ACT or the new SAT.  This broad advice must be weighed against taking the test too early, something we’ve been railing against for years.

International School students (Sept to June school year)

Current Seniors and Juniors (class of 2015 and 2016): take the current test.  The new format SAT will not be available until after the standard application deadline so don’t sweat the new one.  Where is gets a bit trickier is for present sophomores/10th graders who will graduate in 2017.  Such students are right on the cusp of the transition to the new test and will hence be able to take the old test up until January 2016 (during their Junior year) or hold off and be in the first batch of taking the new test come May 2016.  Some would say that as the test is technically meant to be taken in the end of 11th grade then all students should hold off and take the new test.  While this advice would be valid for many students, we think that being in the first batch of taking the new test might not be the best idea.  The new test format is still very much a great unknown while preparing for the current test is something that we have basically mastered.  Hence, for most current 10th graders we’d recommend taking the CURRENT SAT in November or December of 2015, with the January 2016 test kept in reserve.  If you don’t do well, then you can turn to the new test but if you do well then you will have that score on record and worry about more important matters such as sports, dance or glee club.

Kids in local schools (Jan to Dec school year)

This is a bit more simple.  Students graduating from JC this year are clearly going to take the current test.  Those graduating at the end of 2016 are recommended to take the current test as the new test format will be something with which most local students will struggle mightily.  Those finishing school in 2017 (current Sec 4 students) probably aren’t really ready academically for the current format so will be “stuck” with the new test.  Boys with a National Service commitment adds a layer of complication to the equation but as most every school will accept both the new and current test when the time comes, so the advice above still applies.

As stated many times here, there are no real “rules” that American universities have to abide by and they all set their own policy.  If you are in doubt then contact the school – most should have a clearly articulated policy on their websites. Of course, if this all seems too complicated to you then just go ahead and take the ACT test.  College Board has been mismanaging the SAT for the last several years in Asia and there have been delays on scores being released as a result of perceived cheating.  This scourge hasn’t reached the ACT (yet!) and that test isn’t going through any major overhauls for the next few years anyway.  Of course, a core problem with taking the ACT here is that seats are highly limited unless you attend a school which is a test center.  So, as with the SAT: register early and register often.

Still confused?  We don’t blame you.  Ask your school university advisor for specific advice as everyone’s case is unique and the answer to many things in American education is “it depends”.  You can also email us on:, be sure to include what school you presently attend as well as your graduation year.