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.

USEIC Pro-Tip: Consider the College Navigator to Help Discover & Select Your Ideal Schools

The College Navigator is a free consumer information portal designed to help students and parents to access information about 7,000 institutions of higher learning in the USA.

The site is provided by the US Department of Education with data derived from the National Center for Education Statistics. This interactive website allows you to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, acceptance rates, and much more:

University education is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. Advisors at USEIC have the experience and tools to guide US-bound students and their parents through the college selection, application, and admissions process.  For personalized service and further clarification, make an appointment today with USEIC at or 6233 4566.

Featured Higher Education Event: Linden US Education Fair

On Saturday, February 28, representatives from top universities in the United States will be at the Pan Pacific in Singapore from 1:00 - 4:00 PM. The representatives will be available to provide information about their respective institutions to qualified students that plan on pursuing their undergraduate or graduate degrees in the United States. The event is hosted by Linden Educational Services and is free and open to the public: Currently, almost 5,000 Singaporean students are studying in the U.S., making it the preferred destination for Singaporeans seeking degrees overseas.  The universities exhibiting at the fair range from large public universities to small private colleges and offer a diverse and extensive array of academic programs.

Please visit the Linden Tours website for additional information and to register. You can also connect with Linden via YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

SAT Test Center Registration

For those of you who are not taking the SAT at a closed test center, you may have to deal with the possibility of not having your desired test center (or any test center) available as an option.

Although the test center shortage issue will probably be limited to the October and November test dates only, here's what you need to do if you find a similar issue when you register for the December and January test dates.

To register, visit the College Board website:

Note that you will not know whether a test center is available until midway through the registration process. 

If you are denied a test center while going through the registration process, you should opt for the "Let College Board find a Test Center" option per the screen-shots detailed here. Students going for the October and November test dates were assigned a place on an ad hoc basis this way:

NOTE: You will not have this option if you have already registered for another test date and want to change test dates! You will need to contact College Board directly by phone during College Board's office hours from 8 AM - 9 PM EST (12 hours behind Singapore Standard Time).  You will also have to pay a fee to change the registration date.

Straits Times Article & Singapore SAT Test Center Registration Issue Update

We were quoted within a feature article on Page 2 of today's Straits Times  concerning the current problem with registration in Singapore for this October's SAT test date.

For those who are still unaware, we have received early notice that there has been a surge of Chinese students taking the SAT in Singapore in October and perhaps into November as well.  For a number of reasons, the test is not administered in China to Chinese citizens so there is a mass migration every test date to take the test elsewhere.  Due to problems with the timing and availability of the test in Hong Kong this October, the open test centers in Singapore (and elsewhere in the region) for October are technically full.

Pending a formal update from the College Board, we recommend that all students interested in taking the October test to go through the registration process online and opt for "Let College Board find a Test Center" option per the screen-shots detailed here.  We have heard reports of students being assigned a place on an ad hoc basis this way.

We'll keep you posted as new information becomes available!