What to do about the new Redesigned SAT

Parents of Rising High School Juniors –

Did you party too hard before taking the SAT?

If the answer is yes, then you are in the seeming majority.  I have had people from HS principals to Congressmen tell me the same story: how they partied the night before and took the SAT cold.  Well folks, like the black and white television, those days are long behind us.

Today’s kids face an unrelentingly competitive world and the SAT is the gateway to their future.  And, just to keep it interesting, the writers of the SAT are changing the rules of the game (test) again…

Well here’s the deal.  In my 22 years as an SAT tutor, the SAT has undergone 3 ‘once in a lifetime’ changes.  In 1994, the College Board (makers of the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP curricula) removed antonyms from the Verbal section and added free response (grid-in) questions to Math. Eleven years later, in 2005, they removed the dreaded analogies and added a Writing section. And now, another eleven years later, they are eliminating the Writing section (although there will still be a scored essay), adding Trigonometry questions to Math, and emphasizing reading comprehension and analysis over vocabulary.

Ultimately, the only reason any of this matters to you is that your child will have to determine his or her testing strategy basically right now. Colleges will accept scores from the current SAT (administered through January 2016), the Redesigned SAT (debuting in March 2016), and the ACT (offered six times from September through June).

So what are your options?

  1. Take the current SAT in the fall/winter: The advantage here is that this test is very well known and very coachable. If your child is a strong test-taker, getting the SAT done sooner rather than later will take a lot of pressure off the spring semester. Note, however, that the current SAT will not be offered after January 2016.
  2. Take the Redesigned SAT in the spring: Waiting until March to take your first official exam can be a loss of valuable prep time and cause additional stress on top of a notoriously challenging second semester.  Don’t do this.  You’ll be the guinea pig for the College Board’s changes. Here’s some helpful information on the 10 most important changes to the test: SAT-Redesign May 2015.
  3. Take the ACT: This is a pretty good option for most students. The test is not changing materially, and it is a bit more straightforward than the current SAT.


No matter which exam you choose, the summer – when students have more free time – is by far the best time to prepare. I recommend getting started right away. If you do decide that the Redesigned SAT is the right option for your child, the College Board and Khan Academy have released some self-study materials (https://www.khanacademy.org/sat). They’re a start, but guess what –unless your kid has the discipline of a saint, you’re more likely to find them in the pool than at their computer watching a bunch of SAT prep videos.  Do yourself a favor and get a tutor.  A Revolution tutor.  And be prepared.

If you know a parent who has a high school aged kid, please share or like.

Ramit Varma
Ramit Varma
Helping parents navigate the politics and the jargon. Math. Test Prep. Learning. I co-founded Revolution Prep with the goal of profoundly improving students’ lives.

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