Why You Should Take the Old SAT in January 2016


Unless you’ve been living under a rock -- or watching too much Netflix -- you probably know that the first new SAT test will be administered in March 2016. After today, there’s only one remaining old SAT available for students to take, the January 2016 test, and it is the one that nobody should miss.

For students, the decision to take the old SAT or the new SAT may not seem like a big deal, but it is one that can have a negative impact on college admission applications. So why exactly should high school juniors and even sophomores skip the new SAT in March and instead take the old SAT in January and even the ACT?

1) Preparation: the old SAT and ACT have many resources students can use for test prep.

Because they have been around for years, if not decades, the old SAT and ACT have amassed various test-prep manuals, classes, and tricks. Tutors and test-prep companies -- such as Berkeley2 Academy -- have spent countless hours understanding these tests to give the best information to students. It would be a huge waste if you did not capitalize on their efforts and use their knowledge for your own benefit.

The new SAT has a few online sample problems and questions from the new PSAT as the best guides for what to expect, but there are not many prep books or classes right now because nobody really knows the exact nature of the test. College Board will adjust and readjust the new SAT based on student performance and then finally, at some point long past your exam dates, a consistent test will emerge. Do you really want to be the lab rat?

2) Logistics: the new SAT will delay score reporting, which will hurt you in the long run.

For the old SAT, College Board typically releases scores within three weeks of the test date. That won’t be the case for the new SAT in March 2016. Instead, the scores will be released after College Board reviews them, analyzing how students performed on various questions and problems. You won’t actually see the score report until after the May test.

This delay is a problem for a few reasons. One is that students typically use the May test to improve their scores; if you don’t know the results of the March test before the May one, then you have to go into the May exam having no knowledge of your performance or where to improve.

Also, students usually reserve the June exam date for subject tests. If you don’t know your March score until after the May test, then you might have to forfeit your subject test date or stick with your only new SAT score. Sure, you could study over summer for the October test, but that will require more work and less focus on putting together college admissions applications, which require a lot of effort.

3) College Applications: college admissions committees know and understand the old SAT and ACT.

Unsurprisingly, college admissions committees have a stronger understanding of the old SAT and ACT scores and how they relate to student performance and knowledge. These tests have been around for a long time, unlike the new SAT, which will only have 4 exam dates -- March, May, June, and October -- before current juniors will need to submit their scores for college admissions applications. (Granted, some students may test later than October, but that is not recommended.) Even sophomores should consider taking the old SAT in January just to ensure they have scores that colleges can use to accurately measure their academic performance.

It should be a no-brainer that the new SAT is still a bit too new for students and colleges. While College Board spends time figuring out how exactly to calibrate its test, you should be more concerned with other things, like school work and getting into college. Innovation is something most people praise, but sometimes it is best to take the tried and true route.

Berkeley2 Academy has classes over winter break to help students cram for the old SAT January test and the ACT February test. Check out our course listings so you can get the score you desire. Also, if you do decide to take the new SAT, we have some prep courses for that too. No matter what, we’re here to help!

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