This is one of the most common questions that we are getting from parents of students in the class of 2017. During junior year, the SAT will be changing in March. As of now, most colleges and universities are planning to accept either the current or the redesigned SAT. Now, the question is which test should you take if you will be a junior during the 2015-16 school year.
There are a few factors to consider as you are making a decision.
1. What were your sophomore year PSAT scores?
Your sophomore year PSAT scores are the best indication on how you would fare on the current SAT. Although you would expect to do better on the SAT than the PSAT since you have completed a full year of classes since taking the PSAT last October, it can still give you some insight into whether or not it is a good fit for you. Check your scores and ask if it is reasonable to think that you could prepare and meet your goal score by January 2016.
For example, if you scored a 180 (equivalent to 1800 on SAT) during sophomore year and your goal is a 2000 on the SAT, it may be a good idea to try to prepare for the current SAT. However, if you scored 150 (equivalent to a 1500 on the SAT), I would not recommend the current SAT as it is not a reasonable goal to increase by 500 points before January.
2. How rigorous has your curriculum been thus far in high school?
Many students who take advanced coursework are able to achieve their goal scores on the SAT by January of junior year, as the highest math covered on the current SAT is Algebra II. If you have completed Algebra II by the end of sophomore year and taken higher-level English courses, you may be able to successfully reach your goal score by January. Worst-case scenario, you can always take the redesigned SAT as well.
3. To which schools do you plan to apply and what are their average scores for accepted students?
Most students that are applying to highly competitive schools will need to take the SAT at least two to three times to reach their goal score for the schools to which they plan to apply. If you need to increase your score significantly to be within the range of accepted scores at your top choice school, will you have enough time to dedicate to preparing for the current SAT in order to meet that goal by January 2016?
So what are your options and what are the pros and cons of each? Keep in mind that you can take the current SAT, redesigned SAT, and ACT if you would like. The only thing you lose is your time and sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Although you can take any of the three, we generally recommend deciding to focus most heavily on one so that you are not splitting your focus and time between multiple tests.