Should You Take the New SAT or Old SAT? An Expert Guide


You might have heard over the last year that a new version of the SAT is coming out in spring of 2016. You might have a choice between taking the current old SAT or the new SAT—depending on when you time your test. You're probably wondering, "when should I take the SAT?" Well, here's our definitive guide.

Note: The old SAT is no longer available. If you took the previous version and aren't sure whether to take the new one, check out our guides to deciding, depending on whether you got a high score or a low one,

Year Graduating High School Which SAT You Should Take
2016 or before Old (current) SAT for sure
2017 Old SAT recommended
2018 New SAT recommended
2019 or later New SAT for sure


You Should Definitely Take the Old SAT If...

You are a high school student graduating 2016, 2015, or 2014. (Remember that the old SAT is mandatory until March 2016, so if you're graduating in 2014 or 2015, you won't even have a choice.)

If you're graduating in 2016, then March or later of senior year is generally way too late to take the SAT for most college admissions. Even if you're considering a late senior year test date, there are lots of reasons not to—the reasons are much the same as for the class of 2017 but even more urgent.


You Should Try to Take the Old SAT If...

You're a high school student graduating in 2017.

The reasons the Class of 2017 should take the old SAT are not obvious at first glance, but are clear if you think hard about it. After all, the last time you might have to take the old SAT is January 2016, which might be the last time the old SAT is given. That's the middle of junior year—a little too early? I don't think so.

Those in the Class of 2017 taking the SAT should definitely read this guide specifically written for that year to see which SAT they should take.


You Should Try to Take the New SAT If...

You plan to graduate high school in 2018.

The decision is easier for you than the class of 2017. January 2016, the purported last day the old SAT will be given, is only in the middle of your sophomore year.You'll get better and smarter as you age, and you don't want to be pinned down by a score you get while you're so young.

Most of the concerns for the class one year before yours won't apply to you: by the time you take the SAT mid-junior year, the new test will have been out for a year, so everyone will know what it looks like by then, and how to prep for it. You won't have to wait too long to take the new SAT, and you'll have many shots at it.

How should you prepare then? Just as the Class of 2017 should sway a bit earlier to catch the old SAT safely, you should sway a bit later to catch the new SAT safely. Plan to start prepping in January of 2017. The new SAT will have been out for about a year and prep strategies will be quite mature by then. Take your first SAT in March 2017, and you'll have quite a few more shots at it if you don't like your score.


You Should Definitely Take the New SAT...

If you plan to graduate high school in 2019 or afterwards.

Unless you plan to take your final SAT freshman year, which is strongly discouraged, since your skills still have a lot of room to grow.


What's Next?

Class of 2017 Special Guide: Current SAT or Revised SAT?

A Breakdown of the New SAT: An Expert Guide

Why the New SAT Won't Revolutionize the Test



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About the Author
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Dr. Fred Zhang

Fred is co-founder of PrepScholar. He scored a perfect score on the SAT and is passionate about sharing information with aspiring students. Fred graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a PhD in Economics.

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