The importance of the testing plan
Students in the class of 2025 in the US will be the first ones to face the new digital adaptive PSAT in October of 2023 and then the first new digital SAT in March of 2024. As this sophomore class begins to think about their standardized testing plans, they are asking questions about this transition to this new test.
At Summit, we always stress a sane and sensible approach to standardized testing, and this change to the new digital adaptive SAT is not changing our outlook.
This sane and sensible approach begins with mapping out a student’s unique testing plan: (1) Which tests should I take – SAT or ACT (2) When should I take them. (3) How and when should I prepare for them. Developing a testing plan earlier in the process helps to reduce the anxiety that many students feel around standardized testing.
Take a full-length practice ACT and practice digital SAT over the summer
Colleges accept the SAT and ACT equally and do not prefer one test over the other. The best way for students to decide which test is the better test for them is to try both, ideally in a practice setting.
We are recommending that students take a full-length practice ACT and a practice new digital SAT in late spring of their sophomore year or over the summer before the start of junior year to help them decide if they are going down the SAT or ACT path. We offer many opportunities and ways for students to take these practice tests, so please reach out to us to schedule them.
Most students peak on their standardized tests later in the spring of their junior year and into the fall of senior year. It is the rare student who is done with their standardized testing in December of their junior year. For our current sophomores, this means that students who follow the SAT path will hit their peak SAT score after the transition to the new digital SAT goes into effect in March 2024, so we want students to try a practice digital SAT earlier to get exposure to that test.
Keep in mind that 70-80% of students will score equally well on both tests so often the decision whether to focus on the SAT or ACT comes down to a student’s personal preference. Were students comfortable taking an online test with the digital SAT or did they prefer the paper and pencil test taking experience of the ACT? How did they react to the fast paced nature of the ACT? These types of questions can best be answered after students have tried both tests.
When should students take the tests?
Most students will take the tests twice in the spring of their junior year and then the fall of senior year for their third attempt if needed. Early and often testing is usually not beneficial.
Our general advice is for students to not move their testing timeline up to try to avoid the transition to the new digital SAT as most students need to test in the spring of their junior year to hit their full potential as performance on these tests does correlate with age, maturity, and time spent in school.
Also, most students need to take the test 2-3 times. The first time they take the test, they are always a little nervous, so most students are not one and done. Taking the test 2-3 times in the fall and early winter of junior year is a lot of testing in a short amount of time at a time when most students are not fully ready to take the tests.
For some students – high achieving students or students with very busy junior year spring schedules – it is appropriate to move the testing timeline up. In this case we are usually targeting November or December of junior year for the first test date.
If students choose the SAT path, the test in November and December will be the current paper and pencil version of the SAT. There is a lot of overlap in the content and skills needed for the current SAT and the new digital adaptive SAT so any preparation that students do for those late fall/early winter testing dates will help them be prepared for the digital SAT in the spring. Students will just need some practice with the format and timing of the new test.
If students are thinking that they will test in November or December for the SAT, they can take the current version of the SAT with us as a practice test to get exposure to it.
The ACT is not changing so if students test in December, it will be the same ACT format that they then take in the spring of their junior year.
Reach out to us for help mapping out your student’s testing and test preparation plan
We know that any time the standardized testing landscape changes, there are always questions and confusion about how best to approach these changes. Through our 30+ year history, we have been through many iterations of the SAT and our here to guide you and help you map out the testing plan that will work best for your student.
We have revised all our course materials and are ready to help students prepare for this new digital adaptive SAT and are excited to help students reach their full potential on this new test.
Call us to schedule your student’s free practice tests, so we can start mapping out their plan.