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Last-Chance SAT: Should You Take the Old Test?

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The deadline is coming up fast, but if you’re a college-bound junior, you can still register for the Jan. 23 SAT – the last administration of the current version.

But time is running short. The deadline for late registration is Jan.12. (https://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-us-dates).

A lot has been written about the new test and the changes that will make it more like the ACT: just two sections, no penalty for guessing, and an optional required essay. It draws a lot from the Common Core, emphasizing evidence-based understanding of texts, vocabulary and math skills. Not so many “gotcha” vocabulary words.

But some experts are concerned about the new SAT on March 23, that there may be glitches, that the preparation material may not be extensive or well conceived, that scores will be delayed.

So what are your options?

  1. Some experts say high school juniors might be wise to take the old test if they scored in the 90th percentile on the PSAT or if they have taken a practice test of some sort and did well or felt very comfortable with it.

  2. Another option is to take both old and new and see which score is better. The problem is, despite the College Board’s use of “Score Choice” to allow students to request how they want their grades reported, each institution can have a “stated score-use practice.” That means that many schools want scores from all tests taken.

  3. The other option: Skip the old test and don’t worry about it. Without time to prepare you may not do well and perhaps you will struggle with material that you won’t study until the second half of this year, such as math.

  4. Wait out this transition and just take the ACT. It is similar to the new SAT, accepted at nearly all schools, and allows you to avoid this transition period. You could also take the ACT in the spring and the new SAT in the fall, after the dust has settled.

So spend some time researching test comparisons and see if it might pay to move quickly and take advantage of this last-chance, old-style SAT.

[Looking for more info? Here's 5 myths about the new SAT!]

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Written by James Paterson

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Jim Paterson is a writer and editor who specializes in issues related to education and counseling. He has written for the Washington Post, USA Today Weekend, Parent Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, Counseling Today and a variety of other publications. He has also been a school counselor for the past eight years and last year was named “Counselor of the Year” in Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington, DC.

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