College Test Prep
For all students, be cautious when purchasing test preparation materials right now. If purchasing or utilizing test preparation materials for the SAT, make sure that you are using the books for the correct test (old or new) based on which test you are taking. Also, know the ACT just introduced a new version this past September (2015) on which they did a revision on their writing section. If you are prepping for the ACT, make sure your test prep books/websites are for the new version of the ACT that began in September 2015. Finally, remember that all students who took the PSAT this past October will receive free SAT practice via Khan Academy from The College Board when they get their test results back in January, and this practice will be for the new SAT since the October 2015 PSAT aligns with the new SAT.
SAT Information and Registration: www.collegeboard.com
ACT Information and Registration: www.actstudent.org
Seniors: You need to go ahead and finish up taking the SAT by January. There is low benefit and high risk in taking the new SAT for you. The March SAT is NOT the time to take the SAT, as it is the first offering of the new test and is at a high risk for encountering difficulties in test administration (procedures going wrong, testing inaccuracies, scoring difficulties, sections/scores being cancelled due to circumstances beyond the student's control). This means that you would only have the April, May, and June SAT test dates for taking the SAT. This is really too late for seniors to be taking their standardized tests, as college admissions deadlines will have passed for most colleges. In addition, the way you would prepare for the "old" (current) SAT is very, very different than the test preparation you would need to do for the new SAT. If you took the "old" SAT, know that your scores from the "old" and "new" SAT tests can’t be combined for a highest score. If you have already taken the "old" (current) SAT and want to take it again to improve your scores, you need to go ahead and sign up for the December or January SAT. Another option for you would be to take the ACT, which is not in the middle of a test change. The ACT is offered again in December 2015, February 2016, April 2016, and June 2016 (www.actstudent.org). See St. Anne-Pacelli High School College & Academic Counselor Mrs. Kristin Turner if you need some personal advice on what to do.
Juniors: Your junior year is the time for you to take most of your standardized tests for college admissions. Your goal should be to have completed your standardized testing (SAT or ACT) by June 2016, with the knowledge that you might be able to get one last test in during the early fall of your senior year to get that last "bump" on your scores, if needed. Fall of your senior year will be focused on applying to colleges, so we need to know your scores to meet the deadlines for applications and scholarships.
With the SAT in the middle of a change, your testing plan is somewhat tricky. If you have already taken the SAT and like your score, but want to see if you can get just a little bit higher, you should plan to take the December or January SAT and not even worry about the new SAT that comes out in March 2016. The new SAT is so very different than the "old" (current) SAT and requires a much different kind of test preparation. Additionally, you can’t "super score" your scores from the old and new SAT. If you have a high Critical Reading score from an SAT you have already taken, and earn your highest Math score on the new SAT next spring, you can’t combine these two scores to get your "highest" SAT score. You can only "super score" within the same version of the SAT test.
If you have not taken the SAT yet, you should probably wait until the new SAT comes out. Do not take the first offering of the new SAT in March, as it is the first offering of the new test and is at a high risk for encountering difficulties in test administration (procedures going wrong, testing inaccuracies, scoring difficulties, sections/scores being cancelled due to circumstances beyond the student's control). You would have the option of taking the new SAT in April, May, and/or June of 2016, which still gives you the opportunity to take this test three times to try to max-out your score and finish the SAT by the end of your junior year.
Another option for you would be to take the ACT, which is not in the middle of a test change. The ACT is offered again in December 2015, February 2016, April 2016, and June 2016 (www.actstudent.org). See Mrs. Turner if you need some personal advice on what to do.
Sophomores: It is time to start thinking about a plan for your standardized testing for college, a plan that will play out over your sophomore year (possibly) and your junior year. If you are in upper level Math courses (Algebra II Honors, Pre-Calculus Honors, AP Statistics), you might consider starting your standardized testing this year. However, do not sign up for the SAT until the April 2016 testing date. With the SAT changing in March of 2016, there is not really a strong reason for you to even take the "old" (current) SAT. One of the main reasons for not taking the "old" SAT is that you can not "super score" your scores from the old and new SAT. If you have a high Critical Reading score from an SAT you have already taken, and earn your highest Math score on the new SAT next spring, you can’t combine these two scores to get your "highest" SAT score. You can only "super score" within the same version of the SAT test. Additionally, the new SAT is so very different than the "old" (current) SAT and requires a much different kind of test preparation (the new SAT is actually more similar to the ACT). There is really not a need to spend the time and money preparing for the "old" SAT and then having to basically start from scratch in preparing for the new SAT. If you want to try to take the new SAT in your sophomore year, April, May, and June SAT test dates would be the best options for you, and you could sign up to take one of those dates to get a baseline SAT score. From there, you would know what kind of test prep you might need to do over the summer and into your junior year in order to get your scores where you want them. The SAT will be offered in your junior year in October, November, December, January, March, April, and May. Between all of those months at the end of your sophomore year and during your junior year, you can plan to take the SAT about 2-3 times (after that, your scores will not change really, statistically speaking, without some serious test preparation). Another option for you is to take the ACT, which is not in the middle of a major test change period. The ACT will be offered in February, April, and June of 2016, and then in your junior year in September, October, and December.
If you are not in an advanced Math course (you are taking Geometry, Geometry Honors), it would be to your advantage for you to complete Geometry before jumping into the SAT. It would be even more helpful for you to get some Algebra II (your junior year math course) under your belt. You can certainly take the SAT in the spring of 2016, but it would likely be better for you to wait until your junior year to take the SAT. Definitely do not sign up for the SAT for December 2105 or January 2016, as this is the "old" version of the SAT. For the same reasons stated above, it would be best for you to wait until after the March 2016 test date to even think about taking the SAT. Even better, wait for your junior year to take the SAT or ACT, and plan to take each test 2-3 times to get your best possible scores. See Mrs. Turner if you would like personal advice on what to do.
Freshman: Do not worry about the SAT or ACT right now. Focus on your grades and your classes, challenging yourself at the highest and most appropriate levels, and successfully navigating the transition to high school.