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Should You Send Old or New SAT Scores? Expert Guide

Posted by Justin Berkman | Jun 4, 2016 8:30:00 AM

SAT Logistics



If you've taken the old SAT and the redesigned SAT, you may be wondering which scores you should send to colleges. Should you send all your scores? Should you just send your results from the test with the highest average section scores?

In this article, I'll explain the factors to consider when determining whether you should send old or new SAT scores.


General Differences Between Old and New SAT Scores

The old SAT was out of 2400 and the new one is out of 1600. The new SAT combines Reading and Writing into one section score out of 800. Reading and Writing were two separate sections on the old SAT, and both were out of 800.

Also, the essay was a mandatory component of the Writing section on the old SAT. Now, the essay is optional—it's its own section and it doesn't impact your overall SAT score. Some schools will require the essay on the new SAT, so check the requirements of the colleges you're applying to.

Here's a more thorough breakdown of the old SAT vs. the new one.


Most Schools Accept Both the Old and New SATs

For the classes of 2017 and 2018, the vast majority of schools will accept scores from the old SAT and the redesigned SAT, but make sure you check the specific policies for the schools you’re applying to. You have to send the scores that the school will accept, and while most colleges will accept scores from either version, some may only accept scores from the new SAT.

For example, Yale will accept scores from the old SAT for the classes of 2017 and 2018, but will only accept scores from the new SAT for the classes of 2019 and beyond.  Northwestern will accept scores from the old test for the class of 2017, but it's one of the few schools that won't accept scores from the old test for the class of 2018.

Look at each school’s website to find its requirements. If you can’t find information there, call the admissions office.


 Some colleges may only accept scores from the new SAT.


Why Does It Matter Which Scores You Send?

If you’ve taken the old SAT and the current SAT, you may think that you can send scores from both tests and that colleges will just consider your highest section scores or your highest overall score. Actually, though, that may not be true.


Most Schools Don't Superscore Between the Old and New SAT

Superscoring is the process by which colleges consider your highest section scores across all dates you took the SAT. Even schools that do superscore are unlikely to do so between the old test and the current one. If you did better on Reading on the old test and better on Math on the new one, colleges probably won't consider both section scores when evaluating your SAT scores.


New SAT Scores Are Slightly Inflated

Also, schools most likely won’t just focus on the higher overall score between the two tests because scores on the new test are somewhat inflated. For example, an 1100 on the new SAT is equivalent to a 1020 on the Critical Reading and Math sections of the old SAT. Therefore, if you averaged 550 per section on the new SAT and a 520 per section on the old SAT, you actually did better on the old SAT despite having a higher score on the new one. What matters to colleges isn't your score but how well you did relative to other college applicants.


What Should You Do?

Here are the various options you have if you’re deciding between sending your old scores and new scores.


Send Both

You’ll have to use this option for colleges that require you to send all your scores.

If you're given a choice, sending scores from the old test and the new one may be a good option if you did significantly better on Reading or Math on one test vs. the other, but your overall scores were comparable. Even if the school won’t superscore between the two tests, they’ll be less likely to think you have any skill deficiencies.

For example, let’s say you got a 650 in Math on the old test and a 500 in Critical Reading. If, on the new test, you got a 620 on Reading and Writing and a 550 on Math, your overall scores would be similar, but the old test would show much stronger math skills and the new test results would show stronger reading comprehension. Therefore, you can send both if your section scores on the different versions of the test show different strengths or minimize your weaknesses.

Also, you may want to send both if you reached your target scores on both the old and the new tests. If you got a 2300 on the old test and a 1590 on the new test, feel free to send both scores. Showing good scores on two different tests may be more impressive to colleges.


Use Concordance Tables and Send the Best Score

Remember that the scores on the new SAT aren’t equivalent to those on the old SAT; the scores on the new test are slightly higher. Therefore, the SAT has created concordance tables to convert new scores to old scores and vice versa.

You can use these tables to determine which score is best and then send the best score. This option probably makes the most sense for the majority of students.


Send the Old SAT

The argument for just sending your scores from the old SAT is that colleges are much more familiar with the old SAT and may be able to more easily interpret your scores. This could be a good option for students who did the same or better on the old SAT. Because scores on the new SAT are slightly inflated, an equivalent score on the old SAT is more impressive.


What's Next?

If you've taken the ACT, check out this post for conversion tables from the ACT to the old and new SAT.

If you're studying for the new SAT, learn why using Khan Academy isn't enough.

Finally, check out this post to understand the importance of the SAT.


Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Justin Berkman
About the Author

Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.

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